An Intelligent Design creationist is suing Caltech for allegedly firing him for espousing his beliefs at the workplace.
David Coppedge has sued Caltech, which operates Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA, claiming religious discrimination and retaliation, harassment and wrongful demotion. Officials removed Coppedge from a lead system administrator position on the Cassini mission to Saturn in 2010, and was let go in 2011. Some 200 workers were laid off that same year due to budgetary constraints.
Denying the allegations, in documents filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court, JPL officials allege that Coppedge received a written warning because Coppedge allegedly harassed co-workers about his beliefs.
It’s an interesting case. Coppedge was a sysadmin, so his views on creationism are pretty much irrelevant to the performance of his job duties. On the other hand, freedom of speech does not give him the right to harass his co-workers, regardless of the cause or content of his alleged harassment. He certainly has the right to express his beliefs at his place of employment, but not to the point that it interferes with other employees’ ability to perform their duties.
I’ll be very interested in seeing how this trial works out.