The city of Atlanta has settled with its ousted fire chief Kelvin Cochran, who was let go amid a hubbub over a book he wrote which compared homosexuality to bestiality.
The city council Monday approved by an 11-3 vote paying $1.2 million to Cochran.
#BREAKING Ex-Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran will receive a $1.2 million settlement over his firing after writing a book which compared homosexuality to bestiality. The City Council just approved the payout, 11-3. @wsbradio pic.twitter.com/9tbkefxoJQ— Veronica Waters (@MissVWaters) October 15, 2018
Cochran's 2015 dismissal came after he wrote a book called "Who Told You That You Were Naked?" in late 2013, giving it to some subordinates at work.
In 2014, an assistant chief who had received a copy raised concerns about some of the book's passages, especially since Cochran identified himself by his job title in the book. Cochran was suspended the next January for 30 days, and later fired. His lawyer claimed that the firing was because of his religious beliefs, but the City said it was because of Cochran's flouting of procedure during the suspension.
City attorney David Gevertz pointed out that Cochran had been directed to not make public comments about his suspension, but instead helped launch a PR campaign with the Georgia Baptist Convention that resulted in thousands of angry e-mails--some of them with racial slurs--being sent to City Hall and Mayor Kasim Reed.
Cochran and the City had been in negotiations after a hearing last December, in which a federal judge ruled largely in favor of the city, but also for Cochran. The sticking issue became over an ethics rule that an employee has to get a boss's approval before agreeing to outside employment, which publishing the book was equated to, but ultimately U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May ruled that the pre-clearance rule was unconstitutional and violated Cochran's freedom of speech.
May also wrote that the city did not discriminate against him based on his viewpoint, did not violate his right to free exercise of religion, and did not violate his due process rights.
The check from the city will go to Cochran and his law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been labeled an extremist group by hate group monitor the Southern Poverty Law Center.