Employee case against NASA's Jet Propulsion lab goes to court

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A lawsuit alleging that NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab unlawfully discriminated against a former employee for discussing the scientific theory of Intelligent Design at work will move forward, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled.

David Coppedge, a 14-year veteran of the lab and team lead computer administrator on the Cassini Mission to Saturn, was demoted for lending ID-related DVDs to coworkers, behavior that one lab complainant called "harassment" and another branded "pushing religion."

After he filed suit to vindicate his free expression rights, Coppedge's employer terminated him.

In the Nov. 18 ruling, the judge 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.

His attorneys maintain that evidence shows that officials demoted and terminated Coppedge because he expressed a pro-ID scientific viewpoint disliked by his employer 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 Seattle-based 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."


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