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NASA employee cites wrongful termination

A scientist has filed a civil suit against NASA's California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory claiming that his wrongful termination was based on discrimination for his religious orientation. The opening arguments kicked off in court just recently. The plaintiff in the case is a man that spent 15 years on a project called the Cassini Mission. This was a space exploration project by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The man claims that he was terminated for his belief in intelligent design.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory contends that it did not punish the man for his religious ideas, rather, for creating a hostile environment while expressing his views with co-workers.

The suit details that the man brought DVDs into work and distributed them to his co-workers. These DVDs contained documentaries that provided biological and cosmological explanations for the theory of intelligent design. This theory states that the universe is so complex that an intelligent entity had to play a part in its creation. Intelligent design also argues that the theory of evolution is insufficient.

The ousted man said in court that he never forced his co-workers to accept his views on intelligent design.

The man's supervisor confronted him on March 2009, telling him that he received complaints from co-workers. The co-workers had told the advisor that the man was harassing them with debates over the religious issue and forcing them to watch the DVDs. The supervisor allegedly warned the man that if he did not stop talking with colleagues about politics or religion, he would be fired.

The plaintiff said that this meeting was filled with hostility and the supervisor told him intelligent design was considered religion. The man argued that the meeting was a form of harassment.

A spokeswoman for the Jet Propulsion Lab claimed that the lawsuit carried no merit and that it planned to fight the claims in court. JPL also said the man was among 246 employees that were laid off due to downsizing efforts.

Source: CNN.com, "Terminated employee claims bias against intelligent design," Stan Wilson, March 13, 2012

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