March 5, Los Angeles –Trial begins this week in a lawsuit over whether NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) unlawfully discriminated against an employee for discussing the scientific theory of intelligent design (ID) at work. The jury trial is set to begin Wednesday, March 7.
David Coppedge, a 14-year JPL veteran and team lead computer administrator on the Cassini Mission to Saturn, was reprimanded and demoted after lending ID-related DVDs to coworkers, By contrast, anti-ID workers at JPL faced no similar restrictions on expressing their views. After Coppedge filed suit to protect his free expression rights, JPL terminated him.
“Evidence shows that taxpayer-funded JPL harassed, demoted and terminated Coppedge after he expressed a pro-ID scientific viewpoint disliked at JPL and wrongly labeled as ‘religion’ by JPL decision-makers,” said Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture.
“Whatever your views on intelligent design, you should be concerned about the pervasive culture of discrimination that appears to exist at this NASA facility,” added West.
Last November, a California Superior Court judge ruled 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. That ruling allowed the case to proceed to trial.
Coppedge is represented by William J. Becker, Jr. of the Becker Law Firm, who has been supported in the case by Alliance Defense Fund. The case number is BC435600.
Since 2011, the California Science Center, University of Kentucky, and the journal Applied Mathematics Letters each paid settlements ranging from $10,000 to more than $100,000 to avoid trial for suppressing Darwin-doubting viewpoints.
According to West, “open discussion in science is under growing attack by the Darwin lobby, which wants to impose a gag order on anyone who dares to raise criticisms of Darwin’s theory. This kind of persecution and censorship cannot be allowed to prevail in a free society.”
Background information on the case is available.