You are here

Creationist's lawsuit against Woods Hole dismissed


Nathaniel Abraham's lawsuit against Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was dismissed on April 22, 2008. Contending that he was fired, in violation of his civil rights, for not accepting evolution, Abraham filed suit against the research center on November 30, 2007, alleging that his rights were violated under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and seeking compensatory and punitive damages. In his complaint, Abraham claimed that acceptance of evolution "was in no way a bona fide occupational qualification of employment, was not previously mentioned or implied as a requisite of hiring, and was never listed among necessary criteria for the advertised position." But as NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott told the Boston Globe (December 7, 2007), "It is inconceivable that someone working in developmental biology at a major research institution would not be expected to deal intimately with evolution."

The lawsuit was dismissed, the Boston Globe (April 29, 2008) reported, when "US District Court Judge William G. Young agreed with the institution's lawyer that the researcher did not file his lawsuit within the time frame required by law." In June 2006, Abraham filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, which ruled against him in April 2007, stating that there was insufficient probable cause to find that his supervisor and Woods Hole engaged in unlawful discriminatory practices. Included was a notification to Abraham that in order to file a lawsuit, "Your lawsuit must be filed WITHIN 90 DAYS of your receipt of this notice; or your right to sue based on this charge will be lost" (emphasis in original). The defendants moved for a dismissal accordingly, but were also ready to argue that accepting well-established scientific principles relevant to the grant under which Abraham was hired, including evolution, was implicitly a requirement of employment.