November 2, 2012
Judge Rules In Favor Of NASA Versus Religious Ex-Employee
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineDavid Coppedge worked on NASA's Cassini mission to explore Saturn for 15 years, until he was fired by the space agency in 2011.
Coppedge claimed he was demoted in 2009, then fired for engaging his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and for handing out DVDs on the topic while at work.
Intelligent design is the belief that life did not come to be just through evolution alone, but that there was a creator involved alongside the development of the universe as well.
According to the Associated Press, Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige said on Thursday that he believes JPL's argument that Coppedge was not let go because of his beliefs, but because he was combative and did not keep his skills sharp.
His attorney, William Becker, said during trial that a supervisor told Coppedge to "stop pushing your religion," and that he was retaliated against for disputing a written warning and filling a lawsuit against the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
JPL's attorney Cameron Fox, said Coppedge was actually fired because he was stubborn and a disconnected employee who decided not to heed warnings to get additional training, even when it became clear the Cassini mission would be downsized and computer specialists positions eliminated.
Fox claimed Coppedge was confrontational and insensitive to customers and colleagues, who complained about his behavior.
Coppedge runs a website that interprets scientific discoveries as proof of intelligent design. He is also a board member of Illustra Media, a company that produces video documentaries examining the scientific evidence for intelligence design.
Becker said that the videos he was handing out to employees were those produced by Illustra Media.
Hiroshige's final ruling of the lawsuit will be drawn up and distributed within 30 days.