Lawyers for Jet Propulsion Laboratory challenged former JPL employee David Coppedge on his track record at the NASA-affiliated research facility Tuesday, laying out a history of complaints about his work that had nothing to do with religion or politics.
Coppedge is suing JPL for wrongful termination, claiming he was the subject of discrimination because he engaged other coworkers in conversation about California’s ban on gay marriages and the theory of intelligent design. The theory holds that an intelligent agent guided the creation and evolution of the universe.
JPL’s lead attorney, James Zapp, said Coppedge’s competency as a systems administration team leader on the Cassini mission to Saturn had come under fire long before 2009, when Coppedge’s practice of lending out DVDs on intelligent design prompted a coworker to complain of harassment. Zapp said complaints about Coppedge’s work performance came from employees with which Coppedge had never discussed intelligent design, religion or politics, and that they came years before his demotion and layoff.