Missouri is an employment at will state. The employment at will doctrine allows employers and employees to terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason that does not violate a related law. An example of a related law that effects the employment at will doctrine is a law that provides protection based on personal characteristics.
When an employee has been terminated because of a protected personal characteristic, the employee can challenge the employment termination as a wrongful termination. Recently, a NASA employee has claimed wrongful termination and claimed the termination was based on his religious affiliation.
The personal characteristic of religious affiliation is a federally protected personal class and a wrongful termination case could be filed in Missouri based on this issue. The NASA employee who filed the wrongful termination lawsuit was a computer specialist and a team-lead on a mission that explored the plant Saturn.
During work hours, the former employee had conversations with his colleagues about theory of intelligent design and provided the colleagues with DVDs on the topic. The intelligent design theory claims that human life, due to its complexity, could not have been created solely through evolution and requires the involvement of a higher power. The former employee who discussed this theory was terminated after 15 years of employment.
The employer claims it received harassment complaints from the former employee’s colleagues related to the discussions about the intelligent design theory. The employer further claims the former employer was terminated as a result of budget cuts.
The former employee claims his wrongful termination case is based on his religious affiliation which was illustrated through his discussion of the intelligent design theory. The former employee is seeking damages based on his wrongful termination, associated cost and attorney fees.
Source: Kentucky.com, “Suit: NASA specialist axed over intelligent design,” Gillian Flaccus, Mar 12, 2012