April 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are selected April 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law and procedure:

Labor Law

Dismissal; backwages. Article 279 of the Labor Code provides that “an employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement.”

Thus, a number of cases holds that an illegally dismissed employee is entitled to two reliefs: backwages and reinstatement.  The two reliefs are separate and distinct. In instances where reinstatement is no longer feasible because of strained relations between the employee and the employer, separation pay is granted.  In effect, an illegally dismissed employee is entitled to either reinstatement, if viable, or separation pay if reinstatement is no longer viable, and backwages.

The normal consequences of respondents’ illegal dismissal, then, are reinstatement without loss of seniority rights, and payment of backwages computed from the time compensation was withheld up to the date of actual reinstatement.  Where reinstatement is no longer viable as an option, separation pay equivalent to one (1) month salary for every year of service should be awarded as an alternative.  The payment of separation pay is in addition to the payment of backwages.

Since reinstatement is no longer feasible in the present case, the award of separation pay in lieu of reinstatement is in order.  Petitioner’s prayer for the award of backwages is meritorious, it, and the award of separation pay not being mutually exclusive. Ferdinand A. Pangilinan vs. Wellmade Manufacturing Corporation, G.R. No. 187005, April 7, 2010.

Dismissal; backwages. Reprimand being the appropriate imposable penalty for respondent’s actuations from the very beginning, the Court finds that respondent was unfairly denied from reporting for work and earning his keep, thus, entitling him to the payment of backwages.

The Court is not unmindful of our previous pronouncements in similar cases involving suspension or dismissal from service, wherein the penalty imposed was reduced, but the award of backwages was denied.

Given the circumstances of the case, however, where the proper penalty should only be a reprimand, the Court finds the aforementioned cases to be inapplicable herein. On this note, the Court deems it proper to distinguish between the penalties of dismissal or suspension and reprimand and their respective effects on the grant or award of backwages. When an employee is dismissed or suspended it is but logical that since he is barred from reporting to work the same negates his right to be paid backwages. He has no opportunity to work during the period he was dismissed or suspended and, therefore, he has no salary to expect. However, the same does not hold true for an employee who is reprimanded. A reprimand usually carries a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. Under normal circumstances, an employee who is reprimanded is never prevented from reporting to work. He continues to work despite the warning. Thus, in the case at bar, since respondent’s penalty should only be a reprimand, the Court deems it proper and equitable to affirm the Court of Appeals’ (CA’s) award of backwages.

In two instances, the Court granted the award of backwages during the period the employees were prevented from reporting to work despite concluding that the employee concerned violated reasonable office rules and regulations and imposing the penalty of reprimand.

In Jacinto v. Court of Appeals [G.R. No. 124540, November 14, 1997, 281 SCRA 657], the Court awarded petitioner Jacinto backwages after finding that she was only culpable of violating reasonable office rules and regulations for not having asked permission from school authorities to leave the school premises and seek medical attention and for not filing an application for sick leave for approval by the school authorities.

Also, in Bangalisan v. Court of Appeals [G.R. 124678, July 31, 1997, 276 SCRA 619, 633], after affirming the findings that one of the petitioners, Rodolfo Mariano, is only liable for his violation of reasonable office rules and regulations for attending the wake and internment of his grandmother without the benefit of an approved leave of absence and the imposition of the penalty of reprimand, the Court still granted him backwages.

Consistent with the Court’s rulings in Bangalisan and Jacinto, the grant of backwages to respondent is but proper.  It is to be stressed that when imposing penalties, it must not only be made within the parameters of the law, but it should also satisfy the basic tenets of equity, justice, and fairplay. National Power Corporation vs. Alan Olandesca, G.R. No. 171434, April 23, 2010.

Dismissal; dishonesty. In Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation v. Rilloroza [G.R. No. 141141, June 25, 2001], dishonesty is defined as the disposition to lie, cheat, deceive, or defraud; untrustworthiness; lack of integrity; lack of honesty, probity or integrity in principle; lack of fairness and straightforwardness; disposition to defraud, deceive or betray.

It is not disputed that respondent took several materials and supplies from petitioner’s warehouse without the approved WRS.  However, this should not be construed as dishonesty on the part of respondent that would warrant his dismissal from the service for the following reasons: First, the withdrawals of the supplies were duly recorded in the security guard’s logbook.  If respondent intended to defraud petitioner, he could have easily taken items from the warehouse without having them recorded as he was then the Supervising Property Officer who had free access to the supplies.  Second, right after withdrawing the items, respondent replaced them on his own initiative, without anyone instructing him to do so.  This act negates his intent to defraud petitioner. Third, there is no clear showing that respondent misappropriated or converted the items for his own personal use or benefit.  Fourth, the Graft Investigation Officer of the Office of the Ombudsman, in its Resolution dated February 5, 1999, in OMB-1-98-2011, dismissed a complaint for qualified theft filed by Teodulo V. Largo, Section Chief, Power Generation Group of petitioner against respondent as there was no competent and sufficient evidence on record to show that there was intent to gain on the part of the respondent, considering that the materials and supplies taken by him were used in fencing the watershed and reservation area of petitioner company.  Likewise, there was no basis to charge him for malversation of public property as there was no misappropriation of the supplies for his personal use and that the same were for general purpose and not for any specific use.

Nonetheless, although the respondent did not commit an overt act of dishonesty, he is not exonerated from liability.  It was an established company procedure that before materials can be taken out from the warehouse, the issuance of a WRS is an indispensable requirement.  In fact, there was even a warning posted at the door of the property office that states: “BAWAL MAGLABAS NG GAMIT O MAGKARGA NG GASOLINA NG WALANG APRUBADONG WRS.”  Being the Supervising Property Officer, respondent knows fully well that taking items from the warehouse without the required WRS is against the company rules and regulations. It is the paramount duty of respondent to protect the properties in the warehouse and to ensure that none shall be taken away without proper documentation.

The Machiavellian principle that “the end justifies the means” has no place in government service, which thrives on the rule of law, consistency and stability.  Respondent, by taking the said properties without the approved WRS, violated reasonable office rules and regulations as provided in Section 52 (C), (3), Rule IV of Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 19, series of 1999 (Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service). Since this is respondent’s first offense in his more than 16 years of service, the appropriate penalty to be imposed against him is reprimand. National Power Corporation vs. Alan Olandesca, G.R. No. 171434, April 23, 2010.

Dismissal; lost of trust and confidence. To terminate the services of an employee for loss of trust and confidence, two requisites must concur:  (1) the employee concerned must be holding a position of trust and confidence and (2) there must be an act that would justify the loss of trust and confidence.

In the present case, respondent failed to justify its loss of trust and confidence on Consolacion even as it imputed to him, via Notice of Formal Investigation of April 14, 2003, non-compliance with (a) established non-written procedures and standards; (b) established written procedures and standards, and (c) verbal orders and/or instructions. These alleged acts of non-compliance are too general and can encompass just about any malfeasance.  Nowhere in the Notice was there a detailed narration of the facts and circumstances that would serve as bases to terminate Consolacion, thus leaving to surmise what those procedures, standards and orders were.  Anabel Benjamin, et al. vs. Amellar Corporation., G.R. No. 183383, April 5, 2010.

Dismissal; management prerogative. Respondent’s right of management prerogative was exercised in good faith. Respondent presented evidence of the low volume of sales and orders for the production of industrial paper in 1999, which inevitably resulted to the company’s decision to streamline its operations. This fact was corroborated by respondent’s VP-Tissue Manufacturing Director and was not disputed by petitioner. Exercising its management prerogative and sound business judgment, respondent decided to cut down on operational costs by shutting down one of its paper mill. As held in International Harvester Macleod, Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court [233 Phil. 655,655-666 (1987)] the determination of the need to phase out a particular department and consequent reduction of personnel and reorganization as a labor and cost saving device is a recognized management prerogative which the courts will not generally interfere with.

In this case, shutting down Paper Mill No. 4 was undoubtedly a business judgment arrived at in the face of the low demand for the production of industrial paper at the time.  Despite an apparent reason to implement a retrenchment program as a cost-cutting measure, respondent, did not dismiss the workers affected by the closure of Paper Mill No. 4 outright but gave them an option to be transferred to posts of equal rank and pay. Retrenchment was given only as an option in case the affected employee did not want to be transferred. The Court viewed this as an indication of good faith on respondent’s part since it exhausted other possible measures before retrenchment.  Besides, the employer’s prerogative to bring down labor costs by retrenchment must be exercised essentially as a measure of last resort, after less drastic means have been tried and found wanting.  Giving the workers an option to be transferred without any diminution in rank and pay belie petitioner’s allegation that the streamlining scheme was implemented as a ploy to ease out employees. Apparently, respondent implemented its streamlining or reorganization plan in good faith, not in an arbitrary manner and without violating the tenurial rights of its employees. Dannie M. Pantoja vs. SCA Hygiene Products Corporation, G.R. No. 163554, April 23, 2010.

Dismissal; retrenchment. The CA committed no reversible error in affirming the NLRC ruling that Talam was validly dismissed on the ground of retrenchment.  The Supreme Court came to this conclusion based on the following considerations:

First, the decision to retrench had a basis; it was not simulated nor resorted to for the purpose of getting rid of employees.  The decision was upon the recommendation of the company’s external auditor. Second, the cost-cutting measure recommended involved reduction of TSFI’s payroll expense account which, as the auditor found, makes up 41% of the company’s total operating expenses.  Third, Talam was dismissed due to a cause authorized by law – retrenchment to prevent losses. At the time of Talam’s dismissal, TSFI’s financial condition, as found by the external auditor, showed that it was not just expecting losses, it already suffered a net income loss of P2,474,418.00 and retained earnings deficit of P7,424,250.00 for the period ending December 31, 2002. Fourth, TSFI resorted to other measures to abate its losses.  It claimed that during the crises period, it used as an office a small-room (a mere cubicle) with only a two-person support staff in the persons of Grapilon and Hermle; it reduced the salaries of its employees by as much as 30%.  This submission by the company is substantiated by the schedule of Operating Expenses for the year ended December 31, 2002 and September 30, 2002. A quick glance at the schedule readily shows a reduction of TSFI’s operating expenses across the board.  The schedule indicates a substantial decrease in operating expenses, from P5,733,735.00 in September 2002 to P1,698,552.36 as of the end of December 2002. Francis Ray Talam vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 4th Division, Cebu City, et al., G.R. No. 175040, April 6, 2010.

Dismissal; serious misconduct. The findings of the CA and National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) establish the following: (1) Agad’s request for withdrawal of the 190 cylinders of LPG as stated in a Memorandum dated 12 February 1992 cannot be given credence since the Memorandum pertains to the replacement of the scrap materials due to Boy Bato consisting of 3,000 kilograms of black iron plates and not to the subject LPG cylinders; (2) Agad did not observe Caltex’s rules and regulations when he transferred the said cylinders to Millanes’ compound without the RMRD form as required under Caltex’s Field Accounting Manual; (3) Agad gave specific instructions to Millanes to sell the cylinders without bidding to third parties in violation of company rules; (4)  Agad failed to submit the periodic inventory report of the LPG cylinders to the accounting department; (5) Agad did not remit the proceeds of the sale of the LPG cylinders; and  (6) even if considered as scrap materials, the LPG cylinders still had monetary value which Agad cannot appropriate for himself without Caltex’s consent.

Considering these findings, it is clear that Agad committed a serious infraction amounting to theft of company property.  This act is akin to serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer in connection with his work, a just cause for termination of employment recognized under Article 282(a) of the Labor Code.

Misconduct has been defined as a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere error in judgment.  To be serious, the misconduct must be of such grave and aggravated character. Caltex (Philippines), Inc., et. al. vs. Hermie G. Abad, et. al., G.R. No. 163554, April 23, 2010.

Due Process; termination. The records belie Amular’s claim of denial of procedural due process.  He chose not to present his side at the administrative hearing.  In fact, he avoided the investigation into the charges against him by filing his illegal dismissal complaint ahead of the scheduled investigation.  These facts show that the employee was given the opportunity to be heard and he cannot now come to the Court protesting that he was denied this opportunity.  To belabor a point the Court has repeatedly made in employee dismissal cases, the essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard; it is the denial of this opportunity that constitutes violation of due process of law. Technol Eight Philippines Corporation vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 187605. April 13, 2010.

Employer employee relationship. The elements to determine the existence of an employment relationship are: (1) selection and engagement of the employee; (2) the payment of wages; (3) the power of dismissal; and (4) the employer’s power to control the employee’s conduct. In filing a complaint for illegal dismissal, it is incumbent upon Abueva to prove the relationship by substantial evidence.

In this regard, Abueva claims that he has worked with respondent hacienda for more than a year already and that he was allowed to stay inside the hacienda.  As such, he is a regular employee entitled to monetary claims.  However, petitioners have not presented competent proof that respondents engaged the services of Abueva; that respondents paid his wages or that respondents could dictate what his conduct should be while at work.  In other words, Abueva’s allegations did not establish that his relationship with respondents had the attributes of an employer-employee relationship based on the four-fold test. Abueva was not able to discharge the burden of proving the existence of an employer-employee relationship. Moreover, Abueva was not able to refute respondents’ assertion that he hires other men to perform weeding job in the hacienda and that he is not exclusively working for respondents. Romeo Basay, et al. vs. Hacienda Consolation, et al., G.R. No. 175532, April 19, 2010.

Illegal dismissal. Contrary to the CA’s perception, the Court finds a work-connection in Amular’s and Ducay’s assault on Mendoza.  As the CA itself noted, the underlying reason why Amular and Ducay confronted Mendoza was to question him about his report to De Leon – Technol’s PCD assistant supervisor – regarding the duo’s questionable work behavior.  The motivation behind the confrontation was rooted on workplace dynamics as Mendoza, Amular and Ducay interacted with one another in the performance of their duties.

Under these circumstances, Amular undoubtedly committed misconduct or exhibited improper behavior that constituted a valid cause for his dismissal under the law and jurisprudential standards. The circumstances of his misdeed rendered him unfit to continue working for Technol.  Thus, Amular was not illegally dismissed; he was dismissed for cause. Technol Eight Philippines Corporation vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 187605. April 13, 2010.

Illegal Dismissal. If the school were to apply the probationary standards (as in fact it says it did in the present case), these standards must not only be reasonable but must have also been communicated to the teachers at the start of the probationary period, or at the very least, at the start of the period of application of the said standards.  These terms, in addition to those expressly provided by the Labor Code, would serve as the just cause for the termination of the probationary contract.  As explained above, the details of this finding of just cause must be communicated to the affected teachers as a matter of due process.

AMACC, by its submissions, admits that it did not renew the petitioners’ contracts because they failed to pass the Performance Appraisal System for Teachers (PAST) and other requirements for regularization that the school implements to maintain its high academic standards. The evidence is unclear on the exact terms of the standards, although the school also admits that these were standards under the Guidelines on the Implementation of AMACC Faculty Plantilla put in place at the start of school year 2000-2001.

While the Court can grant that the standards were duly communicated to the petitioners and could be applied beginning the 1st trimester of the school year 2000-2001, glaring and very basic gaps in the school’s evidence still exist.  The exact terms of the standards were never introduced as evidence; neither does the evidence show how these standards were applied to the petitioners. Without these pieces of evidence (effectively, the finding of just cause for the non-renewal of the petitioners’ contracts), the Court has nothing to consider and pass upon as valid or invalid for each of the petitioners. Inevitably, the non-renewal (or effectively, the termination of employment of employees on probationary status) lacks the supporting finding of just cause that the law requires and, hence, is illegal. Yolanda M. Mercado, et al. vs. Ama Computer College, Parañaque City, G.R. No. 183572, April 13, 2010.

Illegal dismissal. The Court is not unmindful of the rule in labor cases that the employer has the burden of proving that the termination was for a valid or authorized cause; however, it is likewise incumbent upon the employees that they should first establish by competent evidence the fact of their dismissal from employment. The one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and the proof should be clear, positive and convincing. In this case, aside from mere allegations, no evidence was proffered by the petitioners that they were dismissed from employment. The records are bereft of any indication that petitioners were prevented from returning to work or otherwise deprived of any work assignment by respondents.

In Abad v. Roselle Cinema [G.R. No. 141371, March 24, 2006, 485 SCRA 262, 272], the Court ruled that the substantial evidence proffered by the employer that it had not terminated the employee should not be ignored on the pretext that the employee would not have filed the complaint for illegal dismissal if he had not really been dismissed. The Court held that such non sequitur reasoning cannot take the place of the evidence of both the employer and the employee. Romeo Basay, et al. vs. Hacienda Consolation, et al., G.R. No. 175532, April 19, 2010.

Illegal Dismissal. The Court views with approval the observation of the CA and the NLRC that the employer cannot justify the defense of abandonment as it failed to prove that indeed the employee had abandoned her work.  It did not even bother to send a letter to her last known address requiring her to report for work and explain her alleged continued absences.

The ratiocination of the NLRC on this score merits the Court’s imprimatur, viz: The law clearly spells out the manner by which an unjustified refusal to return to work by an employee may be established.  Thus, respondent should have given complainant a notice with warning concerning her alleged absences (Section 2, Rule XIV, Book V, Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Labor Code).  The notice requirement actually consists of two parts to be separately served on the employee to wit:  (1) notice to apprise the employee of his absences with a warning concerning a possible severance of employment in the event of an unjustified excuse therefor, and (2) subsequent notice of the decision to dismiss in the event of an employee’s refusal to pay heed to such warning.  Only after complying with those requirements can it be reasonably concluded that the employee actually abandoned his job.  In the present case, more than two (2) months had already lapsed since the employee allegedly started to absent herself when she instituted her action for illegal dismissal.  During the said period of time, no action was taken by the company regarding the employee’s alleged absences, something which is quite peculiar had her employment not been severed at all.  Accordingly, the Court found no merit in the company’s defense of abandonment in view of an utter lack of evidence to support the same.  Hence, the employee’s charge of illegal dismissal stands uncontroverted. Diversified Security, Inc. vs. Alicia V. Bautista. G.R. No. 152234, April 15, 2010.

Preventive Suspension; Process. What the Rules require is that the employer act on the suspended worker’s status of employment within the 30-day period by concluding the investigation either by absolving him of the charges, or meting the corresponding penalty if liable, or ultimately dismissing him.  If the suspension exceeds the 30-day period without any corresponding action on the part of the employer, the employer must reinstate the employee or extend the period of suspension, provided the employee’s wages and benefits are paid in the interim.

In the present case, petitioner company had until May 20, 2002 to act on Taroy’s case.  It did by terminating him through a notice dated May 10, 2002, hence, the 30-day requirement was not violated even if the termination notice was received only on June 4, 2002, absent any showing that the delayed service of the notice on Taroy was attributable to Genesis Transport. Genesis Transport Service, Inc. et al. vs. Unyon ng Malayang Manggagawa ng Genesis (UMMGT), et al., G.R. No. 182114, April 5, 2010.

Reinstatement. Given the period that has lapsed and the inevitable change of circumstances that must have taken place in the interim in the academic world and at AMACC, which changes inevitably affect current school operations, the Court holds that – in lieu of reinstatement – the petitioners should be paid separation pay computed on a trimestral basis from the time of separation from service up to the end of the complete trimester preceding the finality of this Decision. The separation pay shall be in addition to the other awards, properly recomputed, that the LA originally decreed. Yolanda M. Mercado, et al. vs. Ama Computer College, Parañaque City, G.R. No. 183572, April 13, 2010.

Release, Waiver and Quitclaim. Talam was not an unlettered employee; he was an information technology consultant and must have been fully aware of the consequences of what he was entering into. The quitclaim was a voluntary act as there is no showing that he was coerced into executing the instrument; he received a valuable consideration for his less than two years of service with the company.  Thus, from all indications, the release and quitclaim was a valid and binding undertaking that should have been recognized by the labor authorities and the CA.

While the law frowns upon releases and quitclaims executed by employees who are inveigled or pressured into signing them by unscrupulous employers seeking to evade their legal responsibilities, a legitimate waiver representing a voluntary settlement of a laborer’s claims should be respected by the courts as the law between the parties. In the Court’s view, Talam’s release and quitclaim fall into the category of legitimate waivers as defined by the Court.

With Talam’s voluntary execution of the release and quitclaim, the Court found the filing of the illegal dismissal case tainted with bad faith. Neither can TSFI be made to answer for failure to afford Talam procedural due process.  The release and quitclaim, in the Court’s mind, erased whatever infirmities there might have been in the notice of termination as Talam had already voluntarily accepted his dismissal through the release and quitclaim. As such, the written notice became academic; the notice, after all, is merely a protective measure put in place by law and serves no useful purpose after protection has been assured.  The Court thus finds no basis for the conclusion that TSFI violated procedural due process and should pay nominal damages. Francis Ray Talam vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 4th Division, Cebu City, et al., G.R. No. 175040, April 6, 2010.

Resignation of Employee. While the letter states that Peñaflor’s resignation was irrevocable, it does not necessarily signify that it was also voluntarily executed.  Precisely because of the attendant hostile and discriminatory working environment, Peñaflor decided to permanently sever his ties with Outdoor Clothing.  This falls squarely within the concept of constructive dismissal that jurisprudence defines, among others, as involuntarily resignation due to the harsh, hostile, and unfavorable conditions set by the employer.  It arises when a clear discrimination, insensibility, or disdain by an employer exists and has become unbearable to the employee. The gauge for constructive dismissal is whether a reasonable person in the employee’s position would feel compelled to give up his employment under the prevailing circumstances. With the appointment of Buenaobra to the position he then still occupied, Peñaflor felt that he was being eased out and this perception made him decide to leave the company.

The fact of filing a resignation letter alone does not shift the burden of proving that the employee’s dismissal was for a just and valid cause from the employer to the employee.  In Mora v. Avesco [G.R. No. 177414, November 14, 2008, 571 SCRA 226], the Court ruled that should the employer interpose the defense of resignation, it is still incumbent upon the employer to prove that the employee voluntarily resigned. Manolo A. Peñaflor vs. Outdoor Clothing Manufacturing Corp., et al., G.R. No. 177114, April 13, 2010.

Labor Procedure

Certiorari; questions of law. TSFI asks the Court to dismiss the present petition on the ground that it is procedurally defective as, allegedly, it raises only questions of fact, in contravention of the requirement under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court that an appeal by certiorari shall raise only questions of law. While the petition indeed poses factual issues – i.e., whether the company was suffering from substantial losses to justify a retrenchment measure, whether it observed fair and reasonable standards in implementing a retrenchment, and whether Talam deserved to be retrenched – the Court deems it proper to examine the facts itself in view of the conflicting factual findings among the Labor Arbiter, the NLRC and the CA. Francis Ray Talam vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 4th Division, Cebu City, et al., G.R. No. 175040, April 6, 2010.

Finding of facts. Findings of facts of quasi-judicial bodies like the NLRC, and affirmed by the CA in due course, are conclusive on the Supreme Court, which is not a trier of facts.

Findings of fact of administrative agencies and quasi-judicial bodies, which have acquired expertise because their jurisdiction is confined to specific matters, are generally accorded not only respect, but finality when affirmed by the CA. Such findings deserve full respect and, without justifiable reason, ought not to be altered, modified or reversed. Diversified Security, Inc. vs. Alicia V. Bautista. G.R. No. 152234, April 15, 2010

Res Judicata. On the issue of refund of “underpayment,” petitioners aver that cases of similar import involving also the respondent union have been decided with finality in their favor by the NLRC, vizUMMGT v. Genesis Transport Service, Inc. (NLRC RAB III Case No. 04-518-03) and Reyes v. Genesis Transport Service, Inc. (NLRC CA No. 04862-04); and Santos v. Genesis Transport Service, Inc. (NLRC CA No. 041869-04).  Petitioners thus pray that the Court accord respect to the rulings of the NLRC in the above-cited cases and apply the principle of res judicata vis-à-vis the present case. The Supreme Court held, however that, absent proof that the NLRC cases cited by petitioners have attained finality, the Court may not consider them to constitute res judicata on petitioners’ claim for refund of the “underpayment” due. Genesis Transport Service, Inc. et al. vs. Unyon ng Malayang Manggagawa ng Genesis (UMMGT), et al., G.R. No. 182114, April 5, 2010

(Leslie thanks Bhong Paulo A. Macasaet for assisting in the preparation of this post.)