Saturday, February 05, 2011

New Information on Coppedge Suit

The lawyer for David Coppedge is considering refiling the suit in light of a new court decision. In a storyby Beige Luciano-Adams in the Pasadena Star:
[Coppedge]... filed suit with the Los Angeles Superior in April of last year, claiming he was demoted at JPL for propagating his beliefs at work, citing protection under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

A JPL spokeswoman said Coppedge's "suit is without merit."

But while the original lawsuit rested on claims of discrimination under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act, Coppedge's legal team is now considering a new tactics - including taking a page from the Supreme Court's Jan. 19 in NASA v. Nelson.

Two weeks ago the high court ruled against JPL employees who sought to terminate background checks at the facility. The employees claimed those checks violated their civil rights.

"David was terminated and the NASA v. Nelson decision came down
... which changes the case in material ways," said Coppedge's attorney, Bill Becker.

Becker said he would seek to amend the complaint within the next two weeks to include a wrongful termination claim - adding that a First Amendment claim might also be on the table.
Here is the WaPo story on the NASA vs. Nelson ruling, which involved whether or not the federal government had the right to conduct background checks for prospective employees even if they were subcontractors. But Eugene Volokh writes:
"The real question is who is making the decision - that was clear in (NASA v. Nelson), but not so clear here. Just because a research center is federally funded is not enough to make it a government actor," Volokh said of JPL, which is managed by the California Institute of Technology for NASA.
Read the whole thing.

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