Above, Cochran and his legal team, including Kevin Theriot (2nd from left)
January-February 2019 – On October 15, 2018, the Atlanta, Georgia, city council voted to pay Kelvin Cochran $1.2 million in damages and attorneys’ fees for the unconstitutional termination of his employment in 2015.
Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was fired after writing a men’s devotional book in which he briefly mentioned biblical standards of sexual morality. Although an investigation found that Cochran had not discriminated against anyone, Mayor Kasim Reed fired him, claiming a need for tolerance of diversity.
A December 2017 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia declared the termination of Cochran’s employment was unconstitutional.
“The government can’t force its employees to get its permission before they engage in free speech,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, who represented Cochran in court in 2017. “It also can’t fire them for exercising that First Amendment freedom, causing them to lose both their freedom and their livelihoods.”