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Wed, Nov 23, 2011

JPL Vs. Intelligent Design In California

Former Employee Says Firing Was Based on Conversations At Work

A Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge ruled November 18 that a jury will decide whether NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) unlawfully discriminated against a former employee for discussing the scientific theory of intelligent design (ID) at work.

According to the Discovery Institute, David Coppedge, a 14-year JPL veteran and team lead computer administrator on the Cassini Mission to Saturn, was demoted for lending ID-related DVDs to coworkers, behavior that one JPL complainant called "harassment," and another branded "pushing religion." After he filed suit to vindicate his free expression rights, JPL terminated Coppedge.

The plaintiff will contend that evidence shows JPL demoted and terminated Coppedge because he expressed a pro-intelligent-design scientific viewpoint disliked at JPL and labeled "religion" by JPL decision-makers.

"The Court's ruling allows a jury to vindicate David Coppedge's rights," said Joshua Youngkin, a legal affairs policy analyst with Discovery Institute. "California law forbids employers who view an employee's expression as religion to punish or diminish the employee on that basis. Although ID is not religion, it can't be singled out by JPL or other employers in this way..."the upcoming JPL trial will remind employers that it is costly to discriminate against ID in the workplace."

In its ruling, the court found there "are triable issues of fact as to whether Plaintiff's demotion, written warning, negative performance evaluations, and ultimate termination were adverse employment actions" which involved discrimination. Coppedge is represented by William J. Becker, Jr. of The Becker Law Firm, who was supported in the case by Alliance Defense Fund.

FMI: www.discovery.org/jpl

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