Trial To Begin For Christian Fire Chief Allegedly Fired For His Faith

Posted: Mar 07, 2016 4:45 PM

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was fired after publishing a book about Christianity outside of regular, taxpayer funded working hours. His case made huge headlines last year when the firing occurred and now, the case is headed to trial. 

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Cochran in the lawsuit against the City of Atlanta and attorneys are arguing government employees do not need permission to publish anything about their religious beliefs outside of working hours. The City of Atlanta maintains Cochran was not fired due to his Christian beliefs, but because he violated an outside employment clause. 

A federal court ruled Wednesday that an Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit filed on behalf of former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran will go forward against the city for unjustly firing him because of his religious beliefs. While the court agreed to dismiss some claims, the court is allowing the lawsuit to go forward on Cochran’s primary claims of retaliation, discrimination based on his viewpoint, and the violation of his constitutionally protected freedoms of religion, association, and due process (firing without following proper procedure).

At oral arguments in October before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Cochran v. City of Atlanta, ADF argued that the city’s arguments themselves confirm Cochran’s claim that the city fired him for holding and expressing religious beliefs city officials didn’t like.

“A religious or ideological test cannot be used to fire a public servant, but the city did exactly that, as the evidence and facts of this case clearly demonstrate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, who argued before the court. “We look forward to proceeding with this case because of the injustice against Chief Cochran, one of the most accomplished fire chiefs in the nation, but also because the city’s actions place every city employee in jeopardy who may hold to a belief that city officials don’t like.”

Here's a background video on Cochran, who was named Fire Chief of The Year by Fire Chief Magazine in 2012: