Home » Culture, Darwinism, News » Dave Coppedge, fired from JPL for ID sympathies, to get jury trial in wrongful dismissal case

Dave Coppedge, fired from JPL for ID sympathies, to get jury trial in wrongful dismissal case

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A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Friday 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.

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.

Evidence shows that JPL demoted and terminated Coppedge because he expressed a pro-ID 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.”

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8 Responses to Dave Coppedge, fired from JPL for ID sympathies, to get jury trial in wrongful dismissal case

  1. OT: “Darwin on Trial 20th Anniversary: Stephen Meyer on Phillip Johnson’s Courage” – podcast
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....4_26-08_00

  2. 2
    englishmaninistanbul

    Might it not be a Phyrric victory for the ID camp if the jury finds JPL guilty of religious discrimination?

  3. It doesn’t matter- and it was ALLEGED religious activity.

  4. “…was demoted for lending ID-related DVDs to coworkers, behavior that one JPL complainant called “harassment,” and another branded “pushing religion.”

    How ridiculous. If you kindly offer to lend dvd’s to work colleagues, because you think they may find them interesting, etc, it still requires your colleagues to make the free-will choice to take loan of the DVD & watch it. Nothing is forced or pushed onto anyone. That don’t work. If a coworker offered to lend me a film that was of no interest to me, I would just says “No thanks, but I appreciate the offer…” I would not call it “harassment”. Tsk!

  5. 5

    The ultimate point of such discriminatory action is not really to ultimately succeed in court against the fired employee, but rather just to provide a narrative about how hard your life is going to be if you even speak openly about ID theory.

    It’s an Alinsky-style tactic. Defame, diminish, ridicule, dismiss, attack, deny, make their life hard — simply psychology .. hurt them, and make them avoid the activity and let it serve as a warning to others.

  6. I believe we shall have to read/hear the court transcripts to make a determination as to what was found as the facts of the case regarding the termination. It is telling that there were no “harassment” lawsuits filed against Mr. (Dr.?) Coppedge. Apparently neither JPL nor the complainant felt that the condition would pass as harassment in a court of law. Usually, the deck is stacked in favor of the plaintiff in such cases, as harassment is still a very subjective concept in most cases. You don’t really have to direct your harassing behavior at any individual to commit workplace harassment, you simply have to create an environment that is “hostile” to the plaintiff. The court gets to decide if the environment satisfies the definition of “hostile” or not.

    Which, to me, indicates that the complainants probably weren’t the individuals who were “receiving” the DVD offers. Rather, they most likely learned of Mr. (until I’m corrected) Coppedge’s ideological bent towards the design hypothesis from colleagues and decided they did not think it appropriate for Coppedge to be providing this information to anyone, at least while at work, regardless of whether or not the DVD was requested.

    Another option would be that Mr. Coppedge approached a coworker whom he new only through work relations and offered a DVD, through the course of conversation, about the design hypothesis. This would seem a little less likely, as this individual could in fact have a stronger case than the previous speculation for harassment (generation of a hostile work environment).

    Assuming Mr. Coppedge did NOT simply walk around JPL campus and attempt to foist DVDs onto colleagues regardless of whether or not they wanted them, or even to discuss this topic. Essentially , “cold calling” the pool of coworkers.

    I think Mr. Coppedge will need to demonstrate that JPL acted in an arbitrary and capricious fashion when processing his termination. If JPL is a government agency or operated by a government agency, then he could possibly sue for potential viewpoint discrimination.

  7. Assuming Mr. Coppedge did NOT simply walk around JPL campus and attempt to foist DVDs onto colleagues regardless of whether or not they wanted them, or even to discuss this topic. Essentially , “cold calling” the pool of coworkers.

    These cases bother me regardless of the details. I personally find a workplace hostile where one cannot engage in idle chat without fear of offending someone who will make a formal complaint.

    Having said that, I’m betting in this case that Coppedge did offer his wares to people who did not initiate the request. But it’s just a guess.

    I do know a NASA engineer from another forum, and I am not surprised that there are ID supporters and even young earth creationists working for NASA. Most of them don’t get fired.

  8. It looks like this case has been continued until March 7, 2012.

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