Labor

Manila Jockey vs Trajano (G.R. No. 160982 June 26, 2013)

Manila Jockey Club Inc vs Trajano
G.R. No. 160982 June 26, 2013

Facts: MJCI had employed Trajano as a selling teller of betting tickets since November 1989. On April 25, 1998, she reported for work. At around 7:15 p.m., two regular bettors gave her their respective lists of bets (rota) and money for the bets for Race 14. Although the bettors suddenly left her, she entered their bets in the selling machine and segregated the tickets for pick up by the two bettors upon their return. Before closing time, one of the bettors (requesting bettor) returned and asked her to cancel one of his bets worth P2,000.00. Since she was also operating the negative machine on that day, she obliged and immediately cancelled the bet as requested. She gave the remaining tickets and the P2,000.00 to the requesting bettor, the money pertaining to the canceled bet. When Race 14 was completed, she counted the bets received and the sold tickets. She found that the bets and the tickets balanced. But then she saw in her drawer the receipt for the canceled ticket, but the canceled ticket was not inside the drawer. Thinking she could have given the canceled ticket to the requesting bettor, she immediately looked for him but could not find him. It was only then that she remembered that there were two bettors who had earlier left their bets with her. Thus, she went to look for the other bettor (second bettor) to ask if the canceled ticket was with him. When she located the second bettor, she showed him the receipt of the canceled ticket to counter-check the serial number with his tickets. Thereafter, the second bettor returned to Trajano and told her that it was one of his bets that had been canceled, instead of that of the requesting bettor. To complicate things, it was also the same bet that had won Race 14. Considering that the bet was for a daily double, the second bettor only needed to win Race 15 in order to claim dividends. At that point, she realized her mistake, and explained to the second bettor that the cancellation of his ticket had not been intentional, but the result of an honest mistake on her part. She offered to personally pay the dividends should the second bettor win Race 15, which the latter accepted. When Race 15 was completed, the second bettor lost. She was thus relieved of the obligation to pay any winnings to the second bettor. To her surprise, the reliever-supervisor later approached Trajano and told her to submit a written explanation about the ticket cancellation incident. The next day (April 26, 1998), she submitted the handwritten explanation to Atty. Joey R. Galit, Assistant Racing Supervisor. She then resumed her work as a selling teller, until later that day, when she received an inter-office correspondence signed by Atty. Galit informing her that she was being placed under preventive suspension effective April 28, 1998, for an unstated period of time. At the end of thirty days of her suspension, Trajano reported for work. But she was no longer admitted. She then learned that she had been dismissed when she read a copy of an interoffice correspondence about her termination posted in a selling station of MJCI.

Issue: Whether or not Trajano is validly dismissed.

Held: No. The valid termination of an employee may either be for just causes under Article 282 or for authorized causes under Article 283 and Article 284, all of the Labor Code.

Specifically, loss of the employer’s trust and confidence is a just cause under Article 282 (c), a provision that ideally applies only to cases involving an employee occupying a position of trust and confidence, or to a situation where the employee has been routinely charged with the care and custody of the employer’s money or property. But the loss of trust and confidence, to be a valid ground for dismissal, must be based on a willful breach of trust and confidence founded on clearly established facts. “A breach is willful,” according to AMA Computer College, Inc. v. Garay, “if it is done intentionally, knowingly and purposely, without justifiable excuse, as distinguished from an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly, heedlessly or inadvertently. It must rest on substantial grounds and not on the employer’s arbitrariness, whims, caprices or suspicion; otherwise, the employee would eternally remain at the mercy of the employer.” An ordinary breach is not enough.

Moreover, the loss of trust and confidence must be related to the employee’s performance of duties.  As held in Gonzales v. National Labor Relations Commission:

Loss of confidence, as a just cause for termination of employment, is premised on the fact that the employee concerned holds a position of responsibility, trust and confidence. He must be invested with confidence on delicate matters such as the custody, handling, care and protection of the employer’s property and/or funds. But in order to constitute a just cause for dismissal, the act complained of must be “work-related” such as would show the employee concerned to be unfit to continue working for the employer.

As a selling teller, Trajano held a position of trust and confidence. The nature of her employment required her to handle and keep in custody the tickets issued and the bets made in her assigned selling station. The bets were funds belonging to her employer. Although the act complained of – the unauthorized cancellation of the ticket (i.e., unauthorized because it was done without the consent of the bettor) – was related to her work as a selling teller, MJCI did not establish that the cancellation of the ticket was intentional, knowing and purposeful on her part in order for her to have breached the trust and confidence reposed in her by MJCI, instead of being only out of an honest mistake.

The procedure to be followed in the termination of employment based on just causes is laid down in Section 2 (d), Rule I of the Implementing Rules of Book VI of the Labor Code, to wit:

Section 2. Security of Tenure. —
x x x x

(d) In all cases of termination of employment, the following standards of due process shall be substantially observed:

For termination of employment based on just causes as defined in Article 282 of the Labor Code:

(i) A written notice served on the employee specifying the ground or grounds for termination, and giving said employee reasonable opportunity within which to explain his side.
(ii) A hearing or conference during which the employee concerned, with the assistance of counsel if he so desires is given opportunity to respond to the charge, present his evidence, or rebut the evidence presented against him.
(iii) A written notice of termination served on the employee, indicating that upon due consideration of all the circumstances, grounds have been established to justify his termination.

In case of termination, the foregoing notices shall be served on the employee’s last known address.

A review of the records warrants a finding that MJCI did not comply with the prescribed procedure.

There is no question that an illegally dismissed employee is entitled to her reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges, and to full back wages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits or their monetary equivalent.

In case the reinstatement is no longer possible, however, an award of separation pay, in lieu of reinstatement, will be justified. The Court has ruled that reinstatement is no longer possible: (a) when the former position of the illegally dismissed employee no longer exists; or (b) when the employer’s business has closed down; or (c) when the employer-employee relationship has already been strained as to render the reinstatement impossible. The Court likewise considered reinstatement to be non-feasible because a “considerable time” has lapsed between the dismissal and the resolution of the case. In that regard, a lag of eight years or ten years is sufficient to justify an award of separation pay in lieu of reinstatement.

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Philippine Journalist vs Journal Employees Union (G.R. No. 192601 June 3, 2013)

Philippine Journalist, Inc vs Journal Employees Union
G.R. No. 192601 June 3, 2013

Facts: The second complainant Michael L. Alfante alleged that he started to work with respondents as computer technician at Management Information System under manager Neri Torrecampo on 16 May 2000; that on 15 July 2001, he was regularized receiving a monthly salary of P9,070.00 plus other monetary benefits; that sometime in 2001, Rico Pagkalinawan replaced Torrecampo, which was opposed by complainant and three other co-employees; that Pagkalinawan took offense of their objection; that on 22 October 2002, complainant Alfante received a memorandum from Pagkalinawan regarding his excessive tardiness; that on 10 June 2003, complainant Alfante received a memorandum from Executive Vice-President Arnold Banares, requiring him to explain his side on the evaluation of his performance submitted by manager Pagkalinawan; that one week after complainant submitted his explanation, he was handed his notice of dismissal on the ground of “poor performance”; and that complainant was dismissed effective 28 July 2003. Complainant Alfante submitted that he was dismissed without just cause. With respect to the alleged non-adjustment of longevity pay and burial aid, respondent PJI pointed out that it complies with the provisions of the CBA and that both complainants have not claimed for the burial aid.

Issue: Whether or not petitioner’s denial of respondents’ claims for funeral and bereavement aid granted under Section 4, Article XIII of their CBA constituted a diminution of benefits in violation of Article 100 of the Labor Code.

Held: Yes. A collective bargaining agreement (or CBA) refers to the negotiated contract between a legitimate labor organization and the employer concerning wages, hours of work and all other terms and conditions of employment in a bargaining unit. As in all contracts, the parties in a CBA may establish such stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions as they may deem convenient provided these are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy. Thus, where the CBA is clear and unambiguous, it becomes the law between the parties and compliance therewith is mandated by the express policy of the law.

Accordingly, the stipulations, clauses, terms and conditions of the CBA, being the law between the parties, must be complied with by them. The literal meaning of the stipulations of the CBA, as with every other contract, control if they are clear and leave no doubt upon the intention of the contracting parties.

It is further worthy to note that petitioner granted claims for funeral and bereavement aid as early as 1999, then issued a memorandum in 2000 to correct its erroneous interpretation of legal dependent under Section 4, Article XIII of the CBA. This notwithstanding, the 2001-2004 CBA35 still contained the same provision granting funeral or bereavement aid in case of the death of a legal dependent of a regular employee without differentiating the legal dependents according to the employee’s civil status as married or single. The continuity in the grant of the funeral and bereavement aid to regular employees for the death of their legal dependents has undoubtedly ripened into a company policy. With that, the denial of Alfante’s qualified claim for such benefit pursuant to Section 4, Article XIII of the CBA violated the law prohibiting the diminution of benefits.

Lepanto vs Lepanto Capataz Union (G.R. No. 157086 February 18, 2013)

Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company vs Lepanto Capataz Union
G.R. No. 157086 February 18, 2013

Facts: As a domestic corporation authorized to engage in large-scale mining, Lepanto operated several mining claims in Mankayan, Benguet. On May 27, 1998, respondent Lepanto Capataz Union (Union), a labor organization duly registered with DOLE, filed a petition for consent election with the Industrial Relations Division of the Cordillera Regional Office (CAR) of DOLE, thereby proposing to represent 139 capatazes of Lepanto. In due course, Lepanto opposed the petition, contending that the Union was in reality seeking a certification election, not a consent election, and would be thereby competing with the Lepanto Employees Union (LEU), the current collective bargaining agent. Lepanto pointed out that the capatazes were already members of LEU, the exclusive representative of all rank-and-file employees of its Mine Division.

Issues: Whether or not the filing of a motion for reconsideration on the decision by the DOLE Secretary is a condition precedent in a petition for certiorari.

Whether or not respondent LCU may form a separate union.

Held: Yes. To start with,  the requirement of the timely filing of a motion for reconsideration as a precondition to the filing of a petition for certiorari accords with the principle of exhausting administrative remedies as a means to afford every opportunity to the respondent agency to resolve the matter and correct itself if need be.

And, secondly, the ruling in National Federation of Labor v. Laguesma reiterates St. Martin’s Funeral Home v. National Labor Relations Commission, where the Court has pronounced that the special civil action of certiorari is the appropriate remedy from the decision of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in view of the lack of any appellate remedy provided by the Labor Code to a party aggrieved by the decision of the NLRC. Accordingly, any decision, resolution or ruling of the DOLE Secretary from which the Labor Code affords no remedy to the aggrieved party may be reviewed through a petition for certiorari initiated only in the CA in deference to the principle of the hierarchy of courts.

Yet, it is also significant to note that National Federation of Labor v. Laguesma also reaffirmed the dictum issued in St. Martin’s Funeral Homes v. National Labor Relations Commission to the effect that “the remedy of the aggrieved party is to timely file a motion for reconsideration as a precondition for any further or subsequent remedy, and then seasonably avail of the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65.

Yes. Capatazes or foremen are not rank-andfile employees because they are an extension of the management, and as such they may influence the rank-and-file workers under them to engage in slowdowns or similar activities detrimental to the policies, interests or business objectives of the employers.

The word capataz is defined in Webster’s Third International Dictionary, 1986 as “a boss”, “foreman” and “an overseer”. The employer did not dispute during the hearing that the capatazes indeed take charge of the implementation of the job orders by supervising and instructing the miners, mackers and other rank-and-file workers under them, assess and evaluate their performance, make regular reports and recommends (sic) new systems and procedure of work, as well as guidelines for the discipline of employees. As testified to by petitioner’s president, the capatazes are neither rank-and-file nor supervisory and, more or less, fall in the middle of their rank. In this respect, we can see that indeed the capatazes differ from the rank-and-file and can by themselves constitute a separate bargaining unit.

Bordomeo vs CA (G.R. No. 161596 February 20, 2013)

Bordomeo etal vs Court of Appeals
G.R. No. 161596 February 20, 2013

Facts: In 1989, the IPI Employees Union-Associated Labor Union (Union), representing the workers, had a bargaining deadlock with the IPI management. This deadlock resulted in the Union staging a strike and IPI ordering a lockout. On December 26, 1990, after assuming jurisdiction over the dispute, DOLE Secretary Ruben D. Torres rendered hid decision reinstating the illegally dismissed employees with full backwages reckoning from December 8, 1989 and declaring the IPI Employees Union-ALU as the exclusive bargaining agent further directing the parties to enter into a new CBA. A motion for writ of execution was filed. Motion for partial reconsideration was filed by herein petitioners for amendatory/clarifications on the assailed order by DOLE Secretary Torres. Ultimately, on July 4, 2001, DOLE Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas issued her Order37 affirming the order issued on March 27, 1998, and declaring that the full execution of the order of March 27, 1998 “completely CLOSED and TERMINATED this case.” Only herein petitioners Roberto Bordomeo, Anecito Cupta, Jaime Sarmiento and Virgilio Saragena assailed the July 4, 2001 order of Secretary Sto. Tomas by petition for certiorari in the CA.

Issues: Whether or not the the special civil action of certiorari is the proper remedy for the petitioners.

Whether or not the petitioners are entitled to separation pay and backwages.

Held: No. Even so, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court still requires the petition for certiorari to comply with the following requisites, namely:  (1) the writ of certiorari is directed against a tribunal, a board, or an officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions; (2) such tribunal, board, or officer has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (3) there is no appeal or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

Jurisprudence recognizes certain situations when the extraordinary remedy of certiorari may be deemed proper, such as: (a) when it is necessary to prevent irreparable damages and injury to a party; (b) where the trial judge capriciously and whimsically exercised his judgment; (c) where there may be danger of a failure of justice; (d) where an appeal would be slow, inadequate, and insufficient; (e) where the issue raised is one purely of law; (f) where public interest is involved; and (g) in case of urgency. Yet, a reading of the petition for certiorari and its annexes reveals that the petition does not come under any of the situations. Specifically, the petitioners have not shown that the grant of the writ of certiorari will be necessary to prevent a substantial wrong or to do substantial justice to them.

In a special civil action for certiorari brought against a court with jurisdiction over a case, the petitioner carries the burden to prove that the respondent tribunal committed not a merely reversible error but a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the impugned order. Showing mere abuse of discretion is not enough, for the abuse must be shown to be grave.  Grave abuse of discretion means either that the judicial or quasi-judicial power was exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, or that the respondent judge, tribunal or board evaded a positive duty, or virtually refused to perform the duty enjoined or to act in contemplation of law, such as when such judge, tribunal or board exercising judicial or quasi-judicial powers acted in a capricious or whimsical manner as to be equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Under the circumstances, the CA committed no abuse of discretion, least of all grave, because its justifications were supported by the history of the dispute and borne out by the applicable laws and jurisprudence.

Yes. Under the circumstances, the employment of the 15 employees or the possibility of their reinstatement terminated by March 15, 1995. Thereafter, their claim for separation pay and backwages beyond March 15, 1995 would be unwarranted. The computation of separation pay and backwages due to illegally dismissed employees should not go beyond the date when they were deemed to have been actually separated from their employment, or beyond the date when their reinstatement was rendered impossible. Anent this, the Court has observed in Golden Ace Builders v. Talde:

The basis for the payment of backwages is different from that for the award of separation pay. Separation pay is granted where reinstatement is no longer advisable because of strained relations between the employee and the employer.  Backwages represent compensation that should have been earned but were not collected because of the unjust dismissal.  The basis for computing backwages is usually the length of the employee’s service while that for separation pay is the actual period when the employee was unlawfully prevented from working.

Clearly then, respondent is entitled to backwages and separation pay as his reinstatement has been rendered impossible due to strained relations. As correctly held by the appellate court, the backwages due respondent must be computed from the time he was unjustly dismissed until his actual reinstatement, or from February 1999 until June 30, 2005 when his reinstatement was rendered impossible without fault on his part.

De Jesus vs Aquino (G.R. No. 164662 February 18, 2013)

De Jesus vs Aquino
G.R. No. 164662 February 18, 2013

Facts: On February 20, 2002, petitioner Ma. Lourdes De Jesus (De Jesus for brevity) filed with the Labor Arbiter a complaint for illegal dismissal against private respondents Supersonic Services Inc., (Supersonic for brevity), Pakistan Airlines, Gil Puyat, Jr. and Divina Abad Santos praying for the payment of separation pay, full backwages, moral and exemplary damages, etc. As Sales Promotion Officer, De Jesus was fully authorized to solicit clients and receive payments for and in its behalf, and as such, she occupied a highly confidential and financially sensitive position in the company; De Jesus was able to solicit several ticket purchases for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) routed from Manila to various destinations abroad and received all payments for the PIA tickets in its behalf. Two memorandum were issued to De Jesus reminding her of her collectibles and her obligation to remit it to Supersonic. Despite the demands, De Jesus still failed to comply causing Supersonic to file a criminal case for Estafa which was countered by the petitioner by filing an illegal dismissal case.

Issues: Whether or not the dismissal of De Jesus is valid.

Whether or not Supersonic complied with the two notice rule required by law.

Held: Yes. Article 282 of the Labor Code enumerates the causes by which the employer may validly terminate the employment of the employee, viz:

Article 282.Termination by employer. – An employer may terminate an employment for any of the following causes:

  1. Serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or representative in connection with his work;
  2. Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties;
  3. Fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative;
  4. Commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representatives; and
  5. Other causes analogous to the foregoing.

The CA observed that De Jesus had not disputed her failure to remit and account for some of her collections, for, in fact, she herself had expressly admitted her failure to do so through her letters dated April 5, 2001 and May 15, 2001 sent to Supersonic’s general manager. Thereby, the CA concluded, she defrauded her employer or willfully violated the trust reposed in her by Supersonic. In that regard, the CA rightly observed that proof beyond reasonable doubt of her violation of the trust was not required, for it was sufficient that the employer had “reasonable grounds to believe that the employee concerned is responsible for the misconduct as to be unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded by [her] position.”

No. A careful consideration of the records persuades us to affirm the decision of the CA holding that Supersonic had not complied with the two-written notice rule.

It ought to be without dispute that the betrayal of the trust the employer reposed in De Jesus was the essence of the offense for which she was to be validly penalized with the supreme penalty of dismissal. Nevertheless, she was still entitled to due process in order to effectively safeguard her security of tenure. The law affording to her due process as an employee imposed on Supersonic as the employer the obligation to send to her two written notices before finally dismissing her. This requirement of two written notices is enunciated in Article 277of the Labor Code, as amended, which relevantly states:

Article 277. Miscellaneous provisions.–xxx x x x x

(b) Subject to the constitutional right of workers to security of tenure and their right to be protected against dismissal except for a just and authorized cause and without prejudice to the requirement of notice under Article 283 of this Code, the employer shall furnish the worker whose employment is sought to be terminated a written notice containing a statement of the causes for termination and shall afford the latter ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself with the assistance of his representative if he so desires in accordance with company rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to guidelines set by the Department of Labor and Employment. Any decision taken by the employer shall be without prejudice to the right of the worker to contest the validity or legality of his dismissal by filing a complaint with the regional branch of the National Labor Relations Commission. The burden of proving that the termination was for a valid or authorized cause shall rest on the employer. The Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment may suspend the effects of the termination pending resolution of the dispute in the event of a prima facie finding by the appropriate official of the Department of Labor and Employment before whom such dispute is pending that the termination may cause a serious labor dispute or is in implementation of a mass lay-off.
x x x x

and in Section 2 and Section 7, Rule I, Book VI of the Implementing Rules of the Labor Code. The first written notice would inform her of the particular acts or omissions for which her dismissal was being sought. The second written notice would notify her of the employer’s decision to dismiss her.  But the second written notice must not be made until after she was given a reasonable period after receiving the first written notice within which to answer the charge, and after she was given the ample opportunity to be heard and to defend herself with the assistance of her representative, if she so desired. The requirement was mandatory.

Legend Hotel vs Realuyo (G.R. No. 153511 July 18, 2012)

Legend Hotel (Manila) vs Realuyo AKA Roa
G.R. No. 153511 July 18, 2012

Facts: Respondent averred that he had worked as a pianist at the Legend Hotel’s Tanglaw Restaurant from September 1992 with an initial rate of P400.00/night that was given to him after each night’s performance; that his rate had increased to P750.00/night; and that during his employment, he could not choose the time of performance, which had been fixed from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm for three to six times/week. He added that the Legend Hotel’s restaurant manager had required him to conform with the venue’s motif; that he had been subjected to the rules on employees’ representation checks and chits, a privilege granted to other employees; that on July 9, 1999, the management had notified him that as a cost-cutting measure his services as a pianist would no longer be required effective July 30, 1999; that he disputed the excuse, insisting that Legend Hotel had been lucratively operating as of the filing of his complaint; and that the loss of his employment made him bring his complaint.

Issues: 1. Whether or not petition for certiorari to the CA is proper.
2. Whether or not there is ER-EE relationship.

3. Whether or not retrenchment as a ground for respondent’s dismissal is valid.

Held: YES. There is no longer any doubt that a petition for certiorari brought to assail the decision of the NLRC may raise factual issues, and the CA may then review the decision of the NLRC and pass upon such factual issues in the process.8 The power of the CA to review factual issues in the exercise of its original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari is based on Section 9 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, which pertinently provides that the CA “shall have the power to try cases and conduct hearings, receive evidence and perform any and all acts necessary to resolve factual issues raised in cases falling within its original and appellate jurisdiction, including the power to grant and conduct new trials or further proceedings.”

YES. Petitioner actually wielded the power of selection at the time it entered into the service contract dated September 1, 1992 with respondent. This is true, notwithstanding petitioner’s insistence that respondent had only offered his services to provide live music at petitioner’s Tanglaw Restaurant, and despite petitioner’s position that what had really transpired was a negotiation of his rate and time of availability. The power of selection was firmly evidenced by, among others, the express written recommendation dated January 12, 1998 by Christine Velazco, petitioner’s restaurant manager, for the increase of his remuneration.

Respondent’s remuneration, albeit denominated as talent fees, was still considered as included in the term wage in the sense and context of the Labor Code, regardless of how petitioner chose to designate the remuneration. Anent this, Article 97(f) of the Labor Code clearly states:

xxx wage paid to any employee shall mean the remuneration or earnings, however designated, capable of being expressed in terms of money, whether fixed or ascertained on a time, task, piece, or commission basis, or other method of calculating the same, which is payable by an employer to an employee under a written or unwritten contract of employment for work done or to be done, or for services rendered or to be rendered, and includes the fair and reasonable value, as determined by the Secretary of Labor, of board, lodging, or other facilities customarily furnished by the employer to the employee.

That respondent worked for less than eight hours/day was of no consequence and did not detract from the CA’s finding on the existence of the employer-employee relationship. In providing that the “normal hours of work of any employee shall not exceed eight (8) hours a day,” Article 83 of the Labor Code only set a maximum of number of hours as “normal hours of work” but did not prohibit work of less than eight hours.

The power of the employer to control the work of the employee is considered the most significant determinant of the existence of an employer-employee relationship. This is the so-called control test, and is premised on whether the person for whom the services are performed reserves the right to control both the end achieved and the manner and means used to achieve that end.

A review of the records shows, however, that respondent performed his work as a pianist under petitioner’s supervision and control. Specifically, petitioner’s control of both the end achieved and the manner and means used to achieve that end was demonstrated by the following, to wit: a. He could not choose the time of his performance, which petitioners had fixed from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm, three to six times a week; b. He could not choose the place of his performance; c. The restaurant’s manager required him at certain times to perform only Tagalog songs or music, or to wear barong Tagalog to conform to the Filipiniana motif; and d. He was subjected to the rules on employees’ representation check and chits, a privilege granted to other employees. Relevantly, it is worth remembering that the employer need not actually supervise the performance of duties by the employee, for it sufficed that the employer has the right to wield that power.

NO. Retrenchment is one of the authorized causes for the dismissal of employees recognized by the Labor Code. It is a management prerogative resorted to by employers to avoid or to minimize business losses. On this matter, Article 283 of the Labor Code.

The Court has laid down the following standards that an employer should meet to justify retrenchment and to foil abuse, namely: (a) The expected losses should be substantial and not merely de minimis in extent; (b) The substantial losses apprehended must be reasonably imminent; (c) The retrenchment must be reasonably necessary and likely to effectively prevent the expected losses; and (d) The alleged losses, if already incurred, and the expected imminent losses sought to be forestalled must be proved by sufficient and convincing evidence.

Anent the last standard of sufficient and convincing evidence, it ought to be pointed out that a less exacting standard of proof would render too easy the abuse of retrenchment as a ground for termination of services of employees.

In termination cases, the burden of proving that the dismissal was for a valid or authorized cause rests upon the employer. Here, petitioner did not submit evidence of the losses to its business operations and the economic havoc it would thereby imminently sustain. It only claimed that respondent’s termination was due to its “present business/financial condition.” This bare statement fell short of the norm to show a valid retrenchment. Hence, we hold that there was no valid cause for the retrenchment of respondent.

Agabon vs NLRC (GR No. 158693 November 17, 2004)

Agabon vs National Labor Relations Commission
GR No. 158693 November 17, 2004

Facts: Private respondent Riviera Home Improvements, Inc. is engaged in the business of selling and installing ornamental and construction materials. It employed petitioners Virgilio Agabon and Jenny Agabon as gypsum board and cornice installers on January 2, 1992 until February 23, 1999 when they were dismissed for abandonment of work. Petitioners then filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and payment of money claims and on December 28, 1999, the Labor Arbiter rendered a decision declaring the dismissals illegal and ordered private respondent to pay the monetary claims. It was found out from the investigations that the abandonment from work by the petitioners was because they subcontracted with another company to which they have been remanded before when they  committed the same initially. The petitioners alleged that due process has not been observed.

Issues: Whether or not petitioners dismissal are illegal.

Whether or not they are entitled to pay.

Held: No. To dismiss an employee, the law requires not only the existence of a just and valid cause but also enjoins the employer to give the employee the opportunity to be heard and to defend himself. Article 282 of the Labor Code enumerates the just causes for termination by the employer:

(a) serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or the latters representative in connection with the employees work;
(b) gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties;
(c) fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or his duly authorized representative;
(d) commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representative; and
(e) other causes analogous to the foregoing.

Abandonment is the deliberate and unjustified refusal of an employee to resume his employment. It is a form of neglect of duty, hence, a just cause for termination of employment by the employer. For a valid finding of abandonment, these two factors should be present:

(1) the failure to report for work or absence without valid or justifiable reason; and
(2) a clear intention to sever employer-employee relationship, with the second as the more determinative factor which is manifested by overt acts from which it may be deduced that the employees has no more intention to work.

The intent to discontinue the employment must be shown by clear proof that it was deliberate and unjustified.

Procedurally, (1) if the dismissal is based on a just cause under Article 282, the employer must give the employee two written notices and a hearing or opportunity to be heard if requested by the employee before terminating the employment: a notice specifying the grounds for which dismissal is sought a hearing or an opportunity to be heard and after hearing or opportunity to be heard, a notice of the decision to dismiss; and (2) if the dismissal is based on authorized causes under Articles 283 and 284, the employer must give the employee and the Department of Labor and Employment written notices 30 days prior to the effectivity of his separation.

The dismissal should be upheld. While the procedural infirmity cannot be cured, it should not invalidate the dismissal. However, the employer should be held liable for non-compliance with the procedural requirements of due process.

Yes. The rule thus evolved: where the employer had a valid reason to dismiss an employee but did not follow the due process requirement, the dismissal may be upheld but the employer will be penalized to pay an indemnity to the employee. This became known as the Wenphil or Belated Due Process Rule.

An employer is liable to pay indemnity in the form of nominal damages to an employee who has been dismissed if, in effecting such dismissal, the employer fails to comply with the requirements of due process.

The violation of the petitioners right to statutory due process by the private respondent warrants the payment of indemnity in the form of nominal damages. The amount of such damages is addressed to the sound discretion of the court, taking into account the relevant circumstances. Considering the prevailing circumstances in the case at bar, we deem it proper to fix it at P30,000.00. We believe this form of damages would serve to deter employers from future violations of the statutory due process rights of employees. At the very least, it provides a vindication or recognition of this fundamental right granted to the latter under the Labor Code and its Implementing Rules.