Human Resources are for all humans

I love this. Barton Hinkle of the Richmond Times-Dispatch asks:

It’s tempting to conclude current events have rendered satire inoperative; how do you lampoon that which is already extravagantly absurd?

Meanwhile, in other “news,” we find the following headline:

Pro-Homo Employer Declares War On Normality And Its Advocates

Oh, my. This concerns a Harrisonburg man, Luis Padilla, who apparently was fired because he displayed a sign on his vehicle on company property saying “Please Vote for Marriage Nov. 7.”

This would seem at first blush to be strictly a First Amendment issue. As offensive as this sentiment may be, Mr. Padilla’s co-workers have no fundamental right to not be offended by his views – any more than Mr. Padilla has the right to not be offended by the display of family pictures on a gay co-worker’s desk.

However, seeing as how news of this event first came to us from the always entertaining and inaccurate Some Families Foundation, we suspected that there might be more to this story than they would lead us to believe. As it turns out, Mr. Padilla was employed in the human resources office of Cargill. It is the specific responsibility of a human resources office to uphold the employment policies of a company, which include its non-discrimination policies. This is not just a random position, but one that has specific requirements having to do with, well, tolerance. Cargill wants someone in that position who can be trusted by employees to treat everyone fairly. In their judgment Mr. Padilla was openly advertising an unwillingness to uphold their policies.

As Cargill attorney Al Sufka told the Daily News Record

“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.”

Would Mr. Padilla have put aside his personal beliefs to uphold Cargill’s policies when it came to doing his job? Maybe, but it’s really beside the point. In Cargill’s judgment, the appearance that he would be discriminatory toward gay employees was enough to prevent the effective performance of his job. If there was a dispute involving an employee, how could they possibly have confidence that the situation was being handled without bias? Padilla’s employers determined that he wasn’t the right person to do this job, which seems reasonable from a business perspective.

There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth and playing victim about this from the anti-gay right, along with a failure to mention the human resources position and the statement cited above. Nor does there seem to be any acknowledgement or condemnation of the fact that it’s perfectly legal in Virginia to fire an employee on account of their sexual orientation. Hmm.

Someday I would like to hear a cogent explanation of the idea that when someone is merely prevented from violating the rights of others, that is a violation of their rights. Extra credit if you can explain what special right is being asserted.

This entry was posted in Commentary, News and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Human Resources are for all humans

  1. Jonathan says:

    The redaction of facts is most obvious in Jerry Furhman’s blog where he quotes three apparently contiguous paragraphs from a TimesDispatch article. If you follow the TimesDispatch link and read the article, there are actually four paragraphs. The real paragraph was ommitted by Jerry. It reads:

    Padilla had worked in human resources at the company’s Timberville plant, north of Harrisonburg, since May, the company said.

    Padilla has been on the job for only 5 months, placing him in the probationary period for a typical new hire. During that period, belligerent actions may be unwise:

    Klein said when three employees complained about the signs, managers asked Padilla to remove them. He took them down, but only temporarily.

    “He came back the next day with them, and he didn’t park in the parking lot, but he parked by the front gate,” said Klein, pointing out the area still is considered company property.

    Hmm… He parked by the front gate. Was this meant to hide his recalcitrance or flaunt it?

  2. Jonathan says:


    The first quote in my comment reported that Padilla has been working at the plant since May. I counted mid May throug mid October. That’s about five months.

  3. D Flinchum says:

    As I pointed out on Bacon’s Rebellion, Virginia is an employment “at will” state. Mr Padilla could be fired for any reason or no reason as long as civil rights laws were not being violated. And you are absolutely correct – sexual orientation is not covered by those laws. There are companies in Virginia whose policy is not to hire gays, as everyone here must know.

    It would not surprise me to discover that there is more to this story than meets the eye. I have a hard time imagining a person with a couple of children to support provoking his employer over a sign on his truck by parking the truck with the sign still on it just outside of the employer’s property when he had been told to remove the sign. Actions like this just do not add up.