Updated: 4 p.m. Judge Ernest Hiroshige continued the trial to Tuesday, due to an apparent migraine headache that caused David Coppedge to lie down for more than half an hour.
Plaintiff attorney William Becker said when the headache pain grows severe, it causes Coppedge to mispeak, as well as meander.
If Coppedge is not well enough to continue in the morning, Becker said he will call his next witness. Coppedge has yet to be cross-examined by defense attorney Jim Zapp.
Earlier: A former computer systems administrator who is suing for religious discrimination testified today that his project supervisor gave him "a blanket order'' not to discuss intelligent design.
During a meeting in March 2009, said Monday, Greg Chin accused his employee of pushing his religion onto co-workers and harassing them. And while Coppegdge pointed out that intelligent design is not religion, it was, "of great interest to me and something that I felt I had every right to bring up.''
Coppedge maintains he was fired in retaliation nine months after suing JPL in Los Angeles Superior Court in April 2010. He contends he was targeted by JPL management for discussing intelligent design with fellow employees and for being a self-described evangelical Christian. JPL maintains he was laid off as part of a staff reduction and that he had trouble getting along with his work colleagues.
Coppedge was an information technology specialist and system administrator on JPL's Cassini mission to Saturn. He told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige, who is hearing the non-jury trial, that Gregory Chin confronted him on March 2, 2009. JPL's digital librarian had allegedly complained to Chin about the plaintiff giving her DVDs on intelligent design, Coppedge said.
Chin warned him that he was not to discuss religion or politics at JPL or he might lose his job, Coppedge testified.
"I felt threatened," Coppedge said. "I said, 'Greg, this gets into issues of free speech and freedom of religion.'"
But he also felt singled out.
Coppedge, though periodically meandering during testimony, allegedly due to a migraine headache, described political cartoons on a Cassini project scientist's door that poked fun at intelligent design. Another colleague posted a cartoon that mocked traditional marriage, he said.
One cartoon depicted Darwin fish, which he described as “corruptions of a well- known Christian symbol’’ that could offended some Christians. Coppedge took photographs of the cartoons after what he described as an intense meeting with Chin in March 2009.
During the meeting, Coppedge said, Chin told him not to talk about religion or politcs in the workplace. He described Chin as very angry in the meeting, and said Chin treated him unfairly. So Coppedge then spoke with JPL's chief ethics officer about his confrontation with Chin.
"Other people have free speech at JPL on political and religious matters,'' Coppedge said regarding the cartoons. "I felt like he (Chin) was trampling on my civil rights," Coppedge testified he told the ethics chief. "I thought my job was in jeopardy."
Ultimately human resources ordered the political cartoons removed.
Regarding his freedoms of speech and religion, Coppedge said he believed he was on solid legal ground because of JPL's affiliation with NASA, a federal agency.
"I do know that every machine I've worked on says 'Property of U.S. Government on it,"' Coppedge said.
Coppedge joined JPL as a contract employee in 1996 and became a regular JPL worker in 2003.
Believers of intelligent design say there is evidence of design in nature and challenge evolutionary theory that life is based on random chance.
JPL, a division of Caltech, operates under a contract with NASA.