In the ongoing case of David Coppedge who alleges that he was harassed, then alleges that he got demoted with the end result of being fired because he was expressed his personal views on intelligent design at work in a non-disruptive manner.
In April 2009, David inquires to his boss this…
“Per our meeting this afternoon, I just wanted to be sure I didn’t misconstrue what you told me. Is it correct to say that the allegation of harassment was limited to the activity of my handing out DVDs on intelligent design to coworkers, and that if I had not done that as to anyone here in the building, I would still be in good standing? (i.e., I would not have been investigated or gotten the written warning)? Or would you word it some other way? I just want to be crystal clear I was not being investigated/reprimanded for some other activity, personal flaw or deficiency in job performance.”
His boss, Clark Burgess responded with this…
“I believe the investigation was triggered by the discussion you had with Greg [Chin] on April 13th, when he demanded you stop passing out DVDs and discussing them in the workplace. When I first conversed with HR, they mentioned they were going to conduct an investigation based on that encounter. Whatever else they may have found, I do not believe entered into their decision to generate the written warning. It’s my belief, if that incidence had not happened HR would not have been contacted and the written warning would not have been generated.”
I have been in workplaces where people were told to pipe down by their bosses unless it’s work related and let me tell you, HR did not conduct investigations as a result of those encounters and written warnings were not handed out because in every situation the employee complied with his or her boss’s request. In this case, JPL has presented no evidence that David Coppedge continued to pass out DVDs on intelligent design or discuss it in the workplace after he was told not to do it anymore!
Also, there is no evidence that David continued and repeatedly over a course of a period of time keep discussing intelligent design or attempted to pass out DVDs to his co-workers in the workplace who told him to stop!
There are workers at JPL who are afraid of intelligent design and would like to see it outlawed because it threatens their religion (evolution). Can you imagine a person handing out cheeseheads at work and talking Packers, and a Chicago fan who works there gets upset over the cheeseheads being passed out and all the pro-Packer talk, tells his boss who then tells the person to stop. HR gets involved to investigate the incident. The person complies to his boss’s request, he no longers talks about the Packers at work nor passes anymore cheeseheads out then two years later the person giving out cheeseheads gets fired.
The only way a person who was passing out cheeseheads and talking up the Packers at work would get fired in that situation if he was being discriminated against and that is precisely what David went through and why his employer JPL is in big trouble!