NASA Worker Sues to Share Beliefs

on April 24, 2010

AP: “JPL Worker Sues over Intelligent Design DemotionFor an employee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in the Los Angeles area, sharing his views on the origins issue in the workplace was allegedly grounds for a demotion.

If Coppedge was indeed singled out, it certainly suggests his pro–intelligent design views may have been the reason.

The employee, David Coppedge, is an information technology specialist who was formerly a leader on the Cassini space probe’s system administration team. But Coppedge was “harassed and demoted,” reports the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, after he loaned such DVDs as Unlocking the Mystery of Life to what the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News & Views calls “interested co-workers.”

Coppedge has responded with a lawsuit under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act that requests a court order allowing him to share his beliefs. However, Loyola Law School professor Gary Williams told the Tribune, “If an employee is talking about anything in the workplace that is not related to work, the employer is entitled to say that ‘I don’t want you to do this.’”

On the other hand, Discovery Institute attorney Casey Luskin, a consultant on the Coppedge legal team, noted, “Coppedge was punished even though supervisors admitted never receiving a single complaint regarding his conversations about intelligent design prior to their investigation, and even though other employees were allowed to express diverse ideological opinions, including attacking intelligent design.” If Coppedge was indeed singled out, it certainly suggests his pro–intelligent design views may have been the reason.

While the details of the case have yet to be disclosed—a spokesperson for the Jet Propulsion Lab declined to comment because the lawsuit had not yet been delivered—the treatment of Coppedge portrayed by media reports certainly sounds like discrimination on the basis of origins belief. Whether a Los Angeles County courtroom agrees is yet to be seen.


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