A Los Angeles judge is apparently signaling that he will rule in favor of an employer in a wrongful termination suit. He is expected to decide that employment laws did not actually protect an employee who claims to have been fired because of his religious views.
In the case, the employee, who is a computer specialist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was fired during company-wide layoffs in 2011. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory claims that the man was fired because of his attitude and skill set. They claim that he was stubborn, uncooperative and refused to bring his computer competency up to date. Prior to being let go in 2010, the man lost his leadership role within the company.
The man, on the other hand, believes that he was wrongfully fired from the company. He claims that he was fired because of his belief in intelligent design, which is a theory that claim life could not have been created by evolution alone. In fact, this man was a major proponent of intelligent design — taking a number of leadership roles within that scientific community.
The man claims that he was fired for discussing his views at work. Company records and fellow employees indicate that he was known to discus controversial topics at work. The man claims that he was told by his superiors to stop promoting his religion. After his termination, the man brought a civil claim.
Under employment laws, most employees are subject to termination at will. Despite an employer’s ability to end a person’s employment without warning, federal and state laws prevent employers from firing employers for discriminatory reasons, including terminating employees simply because of their religious practices.
In this particular case, it appears as though the employer presented enough evidence to sway the judge. However, these types of cases are often incredibly complicated and may hinge on a string of conflicting testimonies. An experienced legal professional can help an employee examine the details of the case and their rights. This way, their case can proceed in an effective and fair manner.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Judge tentatively sides with JPL in wrongful-termination suit,” Ashley Powers, Nov. 2, 2012