Ex-fire chief files federal complaint over firing

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Atlanta's ousted fire chief, fired over breaching city policies through his anti-gay book, filed a federal complaint against the city, alleging he was discriminated against because of his religion. 

“These actions by the City arose due to the content of my book and the fact that I attempt to conduct myself in accordance with me religious convictions at all times, even when I'm at work,” Cochran writes in the complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Wednesday.

“The book expresses my deeply held religious convictions on many subjects. I believe that I have been discriminated against because of my religion – Christian – in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended,” Cochran added.

An EEOC complaint is a necessary precursor to filing a federal lawsuit claiming discrimination. Since his firing, Cochran has hinted that a lawsuit was possible as he rallied anti-gay religious conservatives to his side. 

Mayor Kasim Reed fired Cochran on Jan. 6 and issued a lengthy rebuttal to critics who said his actions were based on the fire chief's religious beliefs. 

“His actions and decision-making undermine his ability to manage our fire department. Every single employee under the fire chief's command deserves the certainty that he or she is a valued member of the team and that fairness and respect guide employment decisions. His actions around the book and his statement during this investigation have eroded my confidence to convey that message,” Reed said in a press conference announcing Cochran's termination.

The city responded to Cochran's EEOC filing with a pledge to defend the firing “whether, through the EEOC administrative process or in any other appropriate forum.” Reed was more defiant in an interview with Fox 5.

“He can get all of the lawyers he wants so that he can continue to have publicity and sell books, but he is going to lose the legal case,” Reed said.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, the anti-gay group that has been defending Cochran, issued a statement Thursday about the EEOC complaint:

“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.”

[11 Alive | AJC | Fox 5]

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