Worker Fired for Political Expression Gets Job Back

October 27, 2006 ( - A human resources clerk at a Virginia plant who was fired for not removing from his personal vehicle a sign to persuade people to vote for a traditional marriage amendment has been given his job back, with back pay.

Agricultural products maker Cargill fired Luis Padilla, a worker at its Timberville plant, in early October, when he displayed white letters on his black pickup truck to spell out the message “Please Vote for Marriage on November 7 th ,” according to the Harrisonburg Daily News Record in Virginia. The company has not only taken steps to make up for its firing of Padilla, but also plans to change its policy on employee expression.

An earlier statement by the company’s attorney said that Padilla had been dismissed on grounds of insubordination by ignoring orders to remove a sign that could be “reasonably construed as a show of hostility and intolerance toward homosexuals,” according to the newspaper.

The company and Padilla have since issued a joint statement acknowledging that his termination was a direct result of the sign. The company referred to the incident as a “big misunderstanding,” and said it was satisfied Padilla “did everything in his power to comply with our requests and that there was no insubordination on his part,” the newspaper reported. Cargill conceded that, after being asked to remove the sign, Padilla removed it before work on the following day and parked in a lot he believed was not Cargill property.