ATLANTA – Former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran has filed a complaint against the city alleging that he was discriminated against because of his religion.
Cochran's attorney filed a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint on Wednesday. It appears to be the first step toward filing a federal lawsuit against the city.
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco issued the following statement:
"Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney Jonathan Crumly filed an EEOC complaint on behalf of Chief Cochran yesterday based on the City's clear religious discrimination against the Chief. Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live without fear of losing their jobs because of their beliefs and thoughts. We are continuing to evaluate all available legal options to vindicate Chief Cochran after his unjust termination."
Cochran was fired earlier this month by Mayor Kasim Reed after being suspended in November over Cochran's comments in the Christian book, Who Told You That You Were Naked, which characterized homosexuality as "unclean", "a sexual perversion", "vulgar" and "inappropriate."
In the complaint, Cochran said that on Nov. 24, 2014, he was informed by city officials that publication of the book violated unspecified city policies, and that he was being suspended without pay. After returning from his suspension, Cochran said that he was informed by Atlanta COO Michael Geisler that the investigation "revealed zero instances of discrimination by [Cochran] against any other employee of the City." Cochran said that he was told that city employees interviewed in the investigation said that Cochran's religious faith influenced his leadership style. Cochran said that he was "informed that since my faith influenced my leadership style, as well as other issues concerning my book, I was given a choice to resign or be terminated."
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.
The complaint is against the city, but a lawsuit could include Mayor Reed.
The city said it intends to defend the mayor's decision.
It could be up to six months before the EEOC makes a decision about the complaint.
On Jan. 13, a rally was held in support of Cochran at the Georgia Capitol.