A religious discrimination lawsuit brought by one NASA computer specialist is set to go to trial in Los Angeles soon. Religious discrimination is one of the most common types of workplace discrimination in California and against state and federal law. Religious discrimination can take multiple forms including demotions and wrongful terminations.
The NASA computer specialist claims that he was terminated after his 15 year tenure on the Cassini mission which explores Saturn and its moons. The specialist was demoted from his team lead position three years ago and believes that his recent termination from NASA was due to his belief in intelligent design, a theory which holds that an intelligent god-like being must have created the complex world that we live in.
The computer specialist worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and was one of two people on his mission recently let go due to budget cuts. Many activist groups have given this employment discrimination case a high profile. Christian groups say that the specialist was terminated because of his reputation as a conservative evangelical Christian. Secular groups say that the termination may have been warranted because intelligent design is an offshoot of creationism and inherently unscientific.
"It's part of a pattern. There is basically a war on anyone who dissents from Darwin and we've seen that for several years," said a director for a religious civil rights group supporting the specialist. "This is free speech, freedom of conscience 101."
Source: Associated Press, "NASA's JPL computer specialist alleges discrimination over his belief in intelligent design," Mar. 13, 2012