City responds to ex-fire chief's EEOC complaint

ATLANTA -- The city of Atlanta has issued a lengthy response to a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by the city's former fire chief.

In the complaint, former chief Kelvin Cochran, who was terminated by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed earlier this month, alleged that he was discriminated against because of his religion.

Cochran was fired earlier this month after comments he made in his Christian book, Who Told You That You Were Naked, which characterized homosexuality as "unclean", "a sexual perversion", "vulgar" and "inappropriate." Cochran had been suspended in November, and said he was given a choice to either resign or be fired.

Cochran said that he book "expresses my deeply held religious convictions on many subjects," and says that he believes he was discriminated against because of his Christian faith.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE COMPLAINT (.PDF file)

In a statement issued by Reed's spokesperson Jenna Garland, it denies that Cochran was fired based for his faith, saying, "The religious nature of his book is not the reason he is no longer employed by the City of Atlanta. The totality of his conduct—including the way he handled himself during his suspension after he agreed not to make public comments during the investigation—reflected poor judgment and failure to follow clearly defined work protocols."

The full statement is:

Former Chief Cochran filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and declared under penalty of perjury that the statements in the charge are true and correct. Unfortunately, the only truthful portions are his statements about his tenure as Chief and the identity of those in the room with him during two meetings. Everything else is patently false.

The City will respond directly to the EEOC at the appropriate time to inform the agency that instead of "unspecified policies," Mr. Cochran was informed at the time of his suspension that he had failed to follow the City Code in seeking to engage in an outside income-producing venture. He was also informed that the issue was not the religious nature of his book, but the fact that he was espousing theories about certain groups of people that were in conflict with the City's policy of inclusiveness. He was further informed that there was an issue with his espousing these beliefs while identifying himself as the Atlanta Fire Chief and while falsely claiming that his job description required him to run the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department on the basis of these beliefs. Finally, Mr. Cochran was informed that distributing the book to members of his command staff in the workplace was improper and sent a message to his staffers that they were expected to embrace his beliefs.

Although Mr. Cochran continues to claim that the City Ethics Officer authorized his publication of the book, that claim is as untruthful today as it was when first uttered. Mr. Cochran was told that the City Code required him to get the approval of the Board of Ethics before publishing his book, something he admits he never did.

Mr. Cochran states in his EEOC charge that he was told his faith influenced his leadership style and that this was the reason for his termination. What he was actually told was that his distribution of a book about his beliefs within his department had caused his employees to question his ability to continue to lead a diverse workforce.

The religious nature of his book is not the reason he is no longer employed by the City of Atlanta. The totality of his conduct—including the way he handled himself during his suspension after he agreed not to make public comments during the investigation—reflected poor judgment and failure to follow clearly defined work protocols.

Mr. Cochran continues to make false statements and accusations, even under penalty of perjury to the EEOC. This is just further proof that he has shown himself to be the wrong person for a leadership role in the City of Atlanta.


RAW VIDEO | Mayor Reed defends decision to terminate fire chief (Jan. 13)

PHOTOS | Rally held in support of former fire chief

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