Atlanta Ordered To Pay $1.2 Million To Fire Chief After His First Amendment Rights Were Violated

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In a huge victory for freedom of speech and religion, On Monday, The Atlanta City Council voted to pay $1.2 million in damages as well as attorneys’ fees to former Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who was fired in 2015 over his 162-page book written for men in his church that advocated for a Biblical view of marriage and sexuality.

A December 2017 ruling found that the city discriminated against Cochran and violated his First Amendment rights by firing him for expressing Christian views with which they disagreed with.

The council agreed on Monday to pay out $1.2 million to the former chief for damages and attorneys’ fees, reports Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the organization that represented Cochran.

“The government can’t force its employees to get its permission before they engage in free speech.  It also can’t fire them for exercising that First Amendment freedom, causing them to lose both their freedom and their livelihoods,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot.

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Cochran had been suspended for 30 days without pay and told he had to attend “sensitivity training” by the city after the devotional book meant to guide men on how to be better husbands and fathers was distributed. Although after an internal investigation from the city found Cochran in no way discriminated against anyone, he was still terminated from his post.

Watch Cochran’s Story:

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