U.S.

April 16, 2012

Ex-NASA worker: Firing was over intelligent design

by Gillian Flaccus
Associated Press

A former computer specialist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory spent much of his free time advocating for the idea that a higher intelligence must have had a hand in creation.

Now, a judge will decide if his commitment to that belief cost him his job.

Closing arguments in the wrongful termination lawsuit filed by David Coppedge against Pasadena-based JPL began April 16 after a five-week trial that generated intense interest among proponents of intelligent design – the idea that life is too complex to have evolved through evolution alone.

The case will be decided by Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige after both sides agreed to forgo a jury.

Coppedge, an evangelical Christian who worked on NASA’s Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its many moons, claims he was demoted then let go for promoting his views.

The former team leader alleges he was discriminated against because he engaged his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and handed out DVDs on the topic while at work.

Coppedge lost his team leader title in 2009 and was let go last year after 15 years on the mission.

Coppedge was called to a meeting with a supervisor on March 2, 2009, and told to “stop pushing your religion,” his attorney William Becker said in his closing argument. The supervisor later claimed he was trying to help Coppedge, but Becker said the statement smacked of religious intolerance.

“Imagine if employees were told, stop pushing your gay agenda or stop pushing your feminist agenda, your civil rights agenda?” Becker said. “This is just another way that … shows it’s prejudice and it’s another shifting explanation to provide cover.”

JPL denies the claims. In court papers, lawyers for the California Institute of Technology, which manages JPL for NASA, have said Coppedge received a written warning because his co-workers complained of harassment.

They also said Coppedge lost his leader status because of ongoing conflicts with others.

Caltech lawyers also say Coppedge was one of two Cassini technicians and among 246 JPL employees let go last year due to planned budget cuts.

Coppedge, who began working for JPL as a contractor in 1996 and was hired in 2003, is active in the intelligent design sphere and runs a website that interprets scientific discoveries through the lens of intelligent design. His father authored an anti-evolution book and founded a Christian outreach group.

He is also a board member for Illustra Media, a company that produces video documentaries examining the scientific evidence for intelligent design. The company produces the videos that Coppedge was handing out to co-workers, said Becker, his attorney.

His main duties at JPL were to maintain computer networks and troubleshoot technical problems for the mission. In 2000, he was named “team lead,” serving as a liaison between technicians and managers for nearly a decade before being demoted in 2009.

He sued in April 2010 alleging religious discrimination, retaliation and harassment and amended his suit to include wrongful termination after losing his job last year.

Coppedge is seeking attorney’s fees and costs, damages for wrongful termination and a statement from the judge that his rights were violated.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 30, 2014

News: Software to power F-35 running as much as 14 months late¬†- Software needed to operate Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jet, the Pentagon’s costliest weapons system, may be as much as 14 months late for required flight testing, according to a Pentagon review.   Business: Lockheed will turn on JLTV production line In August; 6-D truck...
 
 

News Briefs July 30, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,197 As of July 29, 2014, at least 2,197 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,819 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Tom Reynolds

F-35B successfully completes wet runway, crosswind testing

Lockheed Martin photograph by Tom Reynolds F-35B aircraft BF-4, piloted by Lockheed Martin Test Pilot Dan Levin, starts down the runway as part of wet runway and crosswind testing at Edwards AFB, Calif. In an important program ...
 

 
boeing-chinook

Boeing delivers first U.S. Army multiyear II configured Chinook

Boeing July 29 delivered the first multiyear II configured CH-47F Chinook helicopter to the U.S. Army one month ahead of schedule. The delivery was celebrated in a ceremony at the production facility in Ridley Township, Penn. ‚...
 
 
Army photograph by SSgt. Angela Stafford

Engineers developing safer, more accurate tracer round

Army photograph Tracer rounds enable the shooter to follow the projectile trajectory to make aiming corrections. However, the light emitted by these rounds also gives away the position of the shooter. Engineers at Picatinny Ars...
 
 
NASA photograph by Carla Thomas

Katherine Lott awarded NASA Armstrong employee scholarship

NASA photograph by Carla Thomas Katherine Lott, the recipient of the 2014 NASA Armstrong Employee Exchange Council Joseph R. Vensel Memorial Scholarship, is congratulated by NASA Armstrong center director David McBride. Flankin...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>