This is a very interesting case one of which involves a System Administrator (computer specialist) employed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In September of 1996, Coppedge was outsource by JBL through another agency to work for them. It wasn’t until 1997, when JBL hired him outright to work on the Cassini mission.
His team was responsible for a series of tasks that include…configuation of systems, data storage, protecting data from security threats, troubleshooting, evaluating new products and so on. Three years later in September of 2000, Coppedge was promoted to “Team Lead” which he held for 8 years until a recent demotion which happened in April of 2009. As a result, he has made some pretty serious allegations against NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The suit alleges the following items…
According to the 71 page complaint which I now have, David Coppedge is passionate about intelligent design which differs from creationism and felt a need to display his views to his co-workers about it especially since JBL’s mission is to explain origins of the Universe. He even offered DVDs and then loaned them to those who were interested in the information (but this doesn’t means they agreed or disagreed with it). The complaint also says that Coppedge discussed his views after hours with his co-workers without coercion. If a person wanted to know more about intelligent design he would loan them DVDs.
Later on his supervisor held a meeting with him and said that he was getting complaints from his fellow co-workers who were claiming that he was pushing religion on them by talking to them about intelligent design and offering DVDs. According to the complaint, his supervisor then threaten to terminate him if he didn’t stop talking about religion. He was also ordered not to talk about politics to his co-workers either.
Coppedge told his boss he would comply with the order and not discuss either one to his co-workers even though he believed this was a violation of his constitutional rights. Let me stop here and comment on this lawsuit. This is not a case about whether or not intelligent design is a valid scientific theory. It’s a case about being demoted in such a way because of a person’s beliefs.
It is strange that intelligent adults could have not told Coppedge to his face that they were not interested in discussing intelligent design with them while the others could keep right on talking about it. Most of us know who work in the real world, people tend to talk about a variety of topics while working or on their breaks which we may or may not agree with.
There was obviously people whom Coppedge works with who have a deep hatred for ID especially in their working environment and if these allegations are true then some got scared that ID might be spreading in their taxpayer funded lab and wanted to put a stop to it by avoiding telling Coppedge they had no interest in ID and went around his back with their tails stuck between their legs to make a huge deal about it.
If it turns out Coppedge complied with his supervisor’s order that is illegal also for grounds for a demotion. It will be interesting to learn what JBL has to say about this, right now the case is pending and normally those being sued have not much to say right away as they have to formulate something first especially when it will be more public later on. In any event, it doesn’t look good for JBL.