Broadway man fired for pro-amendment sign

Brent Finnegan -- October 19th, 2006

Am I missing something, or did the H’burg media completely miss this story about a Cargill employee in Timberville, Luis Padilla, who was allegedly fired for posting (and refusing to remove) a pro-marriage amendment sign in the back window of his truck?

Right-wing pro-amendment groups like the Valley Family Forum and va4marriage have jumped all over this in support of Padilla. But the ACLU seems to be backing off this one, stating that employers have the right to prohibit such displays. My guess is that va4marriage is going to do their best to make a poster boy of Padilla, who just happens to also be a Latino immigrant. Weird story.

I’m not making any political statements about Padilla’s stance on the issue. What I’m more interested in is: how did the Daily Press and WAVY (both located in the Hampton Roads area) pick up on this story before the local media did? As of 10:30 Thursday evening, I’m seeing nothing about it on WHSV, the DNR, or WSVA’s websites. Today’s big story in the local media was the invasion of “ladybugs” (actually called Asian lady beetles, imported by the USDA in the 70s).


15 Responses to “Broadway man fired for pro-amendment sign”

  1. Gxeremio says:

    Does it seem like a lot of information is missing from these stories? What did the sign say? Was it a personal truck or a company vehicle? What is the policy that was violated before the insubordination? Until I get some more information, I’m not gonna be able to form an opinion either way.

  2. finnegan says:

    Yeah, I wondered that too. If it was a Cargill company truck, then it all makes sense.

    Like I said, I’m more interested in knowing how the H’burg media missed it. Dean Welty (Valley Family Forum) is listed as the contact person for va4marriage. You would think he would go to the DNR and WHSV with this first.

    I’m assuming local media will report on it tomorrow — hopefully with more details. Just remember you read about it here first.

  3. Adam Sharp says:

    The story also said the sign was “handwritten.” What exactly did it say?

    Also, the fact that he parked his truck by the gate instead of the parking lot after replacing the sign means that he purposely decided to make a statement. It’s not like he was being harrassed. There’s no free speech protection for getting into people’s faces on company property.

    I have a Webb sticker on my truck and no one at my job has said anything. It would be a little different if I put a 4×8 sign in the bed. Speaking of that, exactly how big is this sign? The stories make it sound like these aren’t that big. A 4×8 sign would be much more aggressive and verboten.

    You need to think about who has more influence on the Daily News-Record and the Byrd family: Cargill, a huge company that provides tons of jobs in this area, or Dean Welty, who likes being quoted? I’m guessing if the offending company were Fairfield Language Technologies we’d have read about this from day one. Mellott, Longley, or Yates must have had a nice chat with a Cargill rep and decided this story wasn’t ready for prime time.

    Basically, in this comment’s only pop reference, I’d like to point out that “I pity the fool” that takes on Cargill in the valley. But since it’s Dean Welty, I would like to encourage him to act as big and bad as he thinks he is. Put me down for a ringside seat.

  4. Josh says:

    It’s the lead story in today’s DNR.

    Pickup Politics Spurs Firing

    The article includess a photo of the message on his truck.

  5. finnegan says:

    The sign in the pic says “Please vote for marriage on Nov 7” and it’s on his pickup truck.

    It says he removed the sign, then put it back up again, so I suppose it’s possible the message could have changed, but the Cargill attorney said nothing about that, but did make reference to “two signs.”

  6. Kempis says:

    First off “The Daily News” article says this guy worked in Human Resources. He should know better. How is an employee going to feel safe bringing an issue to the H.R. department knowing that people there are bigoted? If this was just your average “factory worker” that would be different. Nobody would be expecting discretion or impartiality during a conflict from the average factory worker.

    The attempt by some religous groups to portray this as “discrimination and hostility toward Christians” is just idiotic. Christians are not a percecuted minority in this country and have never been.

    From the article:

    …Padilla, who is from Honduras and is in the United States on a work permit,…

    Further, I would like to know why Cargill felt the need to go all the way to Honduras to hire an H.R. clerk. Is the valley that short of office workers?

  7. finnegan says:

    Well, the most obvious answer to why HR hired him is that he is most likely bilingual. Many of Cargill’s local plant workers speak only Spanish (same goes for Tyson, Pilgrims Pride, etc). HR needs someone who can speak both Spanish and English.

    As far as discrimination goes, it’s probable Cargill fired him to avoid that very label. O, the irony.

  8. Science says:

    It’s a free speech issue. I don’t care that it’s about gay marriage. The real issue is this guy wrote something on his truck, people said that it offended them (without the message being obscene which is a different issue) and he was told to take it down. Now would they have complained if it was smaller or a bumpersticker? There is no distinction legally between the two. It’s kind of rediculous to call it “harrassment” on the one side, I mean seriously the sign says, “please”. And on the other side, it’s rediculous to call it “discrimination against Christians” on the other. It may be considered discrimination towards people who offend fellow workers. But the issue is sticky in that other associations get stuck to it easily which cloud the issue. According to the image, the sign read, “please vote for marriage on Nov, 7th” I believe it is both intolerant and absurd to call that “harrassment” . Other than side, how is this any different than what I’ve seen on many bumperstickers on both sides of the issue. Excuse me, is this bumpersticker harrassing you? The company made a mistake in how they delt with the situation for sure. They had better have some contractual power to do what they did or they are going to be knee deep in the brown water.

  9. finnegan says:

    This is odd. Even Republitarian is siding with Cargill.

    And according to Daily Press, the ACLU won’t touch it (the same ACLU that defended the KKK’s right to march) It all has to do with the contractual stuff he signed (If I violate rule X, I will not sue if fired).

    I think Adam’s right. It’s everyone vs the Family Forum. Ha!

  10. Daytonres says:

    Kempis brings up that Christians are not a persecuted minority. Let me link the gay community and Christians in this respect. If you know anyone that is gay they’ll tell you that most everywhere you go is “hetero.” I had never thought about it that way or any way really until a very good friend came out. It’s hetero because that’s the atmosphere created at these places and the fact there’s an absence of openly gay people. By the same token I’m willing to say most places you go are athiest. God has purposely been taken out of nearly every public place. Should someone display anything having to do with God, it’s a violation of someone else’s rights. You’re almost not legally allowed to be Christian, Hindu or whatever religion in public. Thanks ACLU. If athiesm is the absence of God, than you have achieved athiesm in most public places in America. If you believe that athiesm is a religion than you could argue that the USA is an athiest country and not a Christian one as the agnostics would have you believe. Before you immediately dismiss this as just plain nuts, think about it for a minute. I’ll agree the opinion is out there, but in a strange way it makes some sense.
    As far as Cargill is concerned…any employee over there have a Redskins sticker or a William and Mary sticker (with the feathers)? I bet that’s offensive to somebody, at least the latter is to the NCAA. I say Cargill should fire all Redskins, Braves and W&M fans that proudly display their teams colors…or at least the ones that do it by the front gate.

  11. Josh says:


    Just because an organization, community, school, etc. doesn’t actively promote Christianity doesn’t make it an “atheist” place. There’s a big difference between remaining neutral on a subject–and respecting all belief systems–and advocating atheism. Christians have just as many rights as atheists do.

  12. Kempis says:

    I’m going to reiterate that this person worked in the Human Resources department. They must maintain neutrality with regards to company policy and the enforcement thereof.

    An H.R. person is like a sports referee. They cannot let their team preference affect their judgement or decisions. If a referee wore a specific team’s hat or jersey during a game where he was refereeing then people wouldn’t think he could be “impartial.” Same situation with H.R. personel.

    Quote from the Cargill attorney in the Daily News article:

    “When ordered to do something relatively simple — remove from his truck two signs that other employees could have reasonably construed as a show of hostility and intolerance toward homosexuals — Mr. Padilla decided to ignore the warning and disobey the order.

    “By refusing to obey the order, he demonstrated that he could not be trusted to enforce and promote our employment policies because his personal beliefs mattered more to him.”

    No one interfered with this man’s free speech rights. He had a right to say what he believed and his company had a right to fire him. Just as I have a right to criticize Cargill for hiring so many “Illegals” that they need the services of a bilingual H.R. staffer in the first place (if they can’t speak english 99 percent chance is they are illegal).

    Further more, since Virginia is a “Right to work” state that means (in the absense of a contract specifying otherwise) the employer has the right to terminate the employment of any employee for absolutely no reason other than “we don’t need you anymore.”

  13. finnegan says:

    . Just as I have a right to criticize Cargill for hiring so many “Illegals” that they need the services of a bilingual H.R. staffer in the first place (if they can’t speak english 99 percent chance is they are illegal).

    You eat chicken, Kempis? Would you like to work at the Cargill plant?

    I hope you’re not implying “they’re stealing our jobs.”

    I can tell this thread of comments is going to go way off topic from the original post, but I have to ask where you arrived at your 99 percent concusion.

  14. Adam Sharp says:

    I was wrong. I never would have thought Cargill would have folded in the face of a PR campaign. Guess ole’ Welty won the cajones contest.

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