October 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law

Here are selected October 2009 Supreme Court decisions on labor law:

Dismissal; abandonment. To constitute abandonment, there must be a clear and deliberate intent to discontinue one’s employment without any intention of returning. Two elements must concur: (1) failure to report for work or absence without valid or justifiable reason, and (2) a clear intention to sever the employer-employee relationship, with the second element as the more determinative factor and being manifested by some overt acts. It is the employer who has the burden of proof to show a deliberate and unjustified refusal of the employee to resume his employment without any intention of returning.

In the instant case, petitioners failed to prove that it was Bolanos who refused to report for work despite being asked to return to work. Petitioners merely presented the affidavits of the officers of Henlin Panay narrating their version of the facts. These affidavits, however, are not only insufficient but also undeserving of credit as they are self-serving. Petitioners failed to present memoranda or show-cause letters served on Bolanos at her last known address requiring her to report for work or to explain her absence, with a warning that her failure to report would be construed as abandonment of work. Also, if indeed Bolanos abandoned her work, petitioners should have served her a notice of termination as required by law. Petitioners’ failure to comply with said requirement bolsters Bolanos’s claim that she did not abandon her work but was dismissed.

Moreover, if Bolanos had indeed forsaken her job, she would not have bothered to file a complaint for illegal dismissal. It is well settled that the filing by an employee of a complaint for illegal dismissal is proof of her desire to return to work, thus negating the employer’s charge of abandonment.  Henlin Panay Company and/or Edwin Francisco/Angel Lazaro III vs. National Labor Relations Commission and Nory A. Bolanos, G.R. No. 180718, October 23, 2009.

Dismissal; attorney’s fees. It is settled that in actions for recovery of wages or when the employee is illegally dismissed in bad faith or where an employee was forced to litigate and incur expenses to protect his rights and interests by reason of the unjustified acts of his employer, he is entitled to an award of attorney’s fees. This award is justifiable under Article 111 of the Labor Code, Section 8, Rule VIII, Book III of its Implementing Rules; and paragraph 7, Article 2208 of the Civil Code.

Moreover, in cases for recovery of wages, the award of attorney’s fees is proper and there need not be any showing that the employer acted maliciously or in bad faith when it withheld the wages. There need only be a showing that the lawful wages were not paid accordingly.  Baron Republic Theatrical Major Cinema, et al. vs. Normita P. Peralta and Edilberto H. Aguilar, G.R. No. 170525, October 2, 2009.

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