February 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are select February 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court on labor law and procedure:

Appeal; factual finding of NLRC. 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 Court of Appeals. Factual findings of quasi-judicial bodies like the NLRC, if supported by substantial evidence, are accorded respect and even finality by the Supreme Court, more so when they coincide with those of the Labor Arbiter. Such factual findings are given more weight when the same are affirmed by the Court of Appeals. In the present case, the Supreme Court found no reason to depart from these principles since the Labor Arbiter found that there was substantial evidence to conclude that Oasay had breached the trust and confidence of Palacio Del Gobernador Condominium Corporation, which finding the NLRC had likewise upheld. Sebastian F. Oasay, Jr. vs. Palacio del Gobernador Condominium Corporation and Omar T. Cruz, G.R. No. 194306, February 6, 2012.

Civil Service; Clark Development Corporation. Clark Development Corporation (CDC) owes its existence to Executive Order No. 80 issued by then President Fidel V. Ramos. It was meant to be the implementing and operating arm of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority tasked to manage the Clark Special Economic Zone. Expressly, CDC was formed in accordance with Philippine corporation laws and existing rules and regulations promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to Section 16 of Republic Act 7227. CDC, a government owned or controlled corporation without an original charter, was incorporated under the Corporation Code. Pursuant to Article IX-B, Sec. 2(1) of the Constitution, the civil service embraces only those government owned or controlled corporations with original charter. As such, CDC and its employees are covered by the Labor Code and not by the Civil Service Law. Antonio B. Salenga, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 174941, February 1, 2012.

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January 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are selected January 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law and procedure:

Apprenticeship agreement; validity. The apprenticeship agreements did not indicate the trade or occupation in which the apprentice would be trained; neither was the apprenticeship program approved by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). These were defective as they were executed in violation of the law and the rules. Moreover, with the expiration of the first agreement and the retention of the employees, the employer, to all intents and purposes, recognized the completion of their training and their acquisition of a regular employee status. To foist upon them the second apprenticeship agreement for a second skill which was not even mentioned in the agreement itself, is a violation of the Labor Code’s implementing rules and is an act manifestly unfair to the employees. Atlanta Industries, Inc. and/or Robert Chan vs.  Aprilito R. Sebolino, et al., G.R. No. 187320, January 26, 2011.

Complaint; reinstatement. Petitioners question the order to reinstate respondents to their former positions, considering that the issue of reinstatement was never brought up before the Court of Appeals and respondents never questioned the award of separation pay to them. Section 2 (c), Rule 7 of the Rules of Court provides that a pleading shall specify the relief sought, but may add a general prayer for such further or other reliefs as may be deemed just and equitable. Under this rule, a court can grant the relief warranted by the allegation and the evidence even if it is not specifically sought by the injured party; the inclusion of a general prayer may justify the grant of a remedy different from or in addition to the specific remedy sought, if the facts alleged in the complaint and the evidence introduced so warrant. The prayer in the complaint for other reliefs equitable and just in the premises justifies the grant of a relief not otherwise specifically prayed for. Therefore, the court may grant relief warranted by the allegations and the proof even if no such relief is prayed for. In the instant case, aside from their specific prayer for reinstatement, respondents, in their separate complaints, prayed for such reliefs which are deemed just and equitable. Prince Transport, Inc. and Mr. Renato Claros vs. Diosdado Garcia, et al., G.R. No. 167291, January 12, 2011.

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August 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

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

Labor Law

Dismissal; abandonment. Time and again, the Supreme Court has held that abandonment is totally inconsistent with the immediate filing of a complaint for illegal dismissal, more so if the same is accompanied by a prayer for reinstatement. In the present case, however, petitioner filed his complaint more than one year after his alleged termination from employment. Moreover, petitioner did not ask for reinstatement in the complaint form, which he personally filled up and filed with the NLRC. The prayer for reinstatement is made only in the Position Paper that was later prepared by his counsel. This is an indication that petitioner never had the intention or desire to return to his job. Elpidio Calipay vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 166411, August 3, 2010.

Dismissal; burden of proof. In termination cases, the employer has the burden of proving, by substantial evidence that the dismissal is for just cause. If the employer fails to discharge the burden of proof, the dismissal is deemed illegal. In the present case, BCPI failed to discharge its burden when it failed to present any evidence of the alleged fistfight, aside from a single statement, which was refuted by statements made by other witnesses and was found to be incredible by both the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC. Alex Gurango vs. Best Chemicals and Plastic, Inc., et al., G.R. No. 174593, August 25, 2010.

Dismissal; burden of proof. The law mandates that the burden of proving the validity of the termination of employment rests with the employer. Failure to discharge this evidentiary burden would necessarily mean that the dismissal was not justified and, therefore, illegal. Unsubstantiated suspicions, accusations, and conclusions of employers do not provide for legal justification for dismissing employees. In case of doubt, such cases should be resolved in favor of labor, pursuant to the social justice policy of labor laws and the Constitution. Century Canning Corporation, Ricardo T. Po, Jr., et al. vs. Vicente Randy R. Ramil, G.R. No. 171630, August 8, 2010.

Dismissal; due process. In termination proceedings of employees, procedural due process consists of the twin requirements of notice and hearing. The employer must furnish the employee with two written notices before the termination of employment can be effected: (1) the first apprises the employee of the particular acts or omissions for which his dismissal is sought; and (2) the second informs the employee of the employer’s decision to dismiss him. The requirement of a hearing is complied with as long as there was an opportunity to be heard, and not necessarily that an actual hearing was conducted. Pharmacia and Upjohn, Inc., et al. vs. Ricardo P. Albayda, Jr., G.R. No. 172724, August 23, 2010.

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July 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

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

Labor Law

Assumption of jurisdiction by Secretary of Labor; authority to decide on legality of dismissals arising from strike. The assumption of jurisdiction powers granted to the Labor Secretary under Article 263(g) is not limited to the grounds cited in the notice of strike or lockout that may have preceded the strike or lockout; nor is it limited to the incidents of the strike or lockout that in the meanwhile may have taken place.  As the term “assume jurisdiction” connotes, the intent of the law is to give the Labor Secretary full authority to resolve all matters within the dispute that gave rise to or which arose out of the strike or lockout, including cases over which the labor arbiter has exclusive jurisdiction.

In the present case, what the Labor Secretary refused to rule upon was the dismissal from employment of employees who violated the return to work order and participated in illegal acts during a strike. This was an issue that arose from the strike and was, in fact, submitted to the Labor Secretary, through the union’s motion for the issuance of an order for immediate reinstatement of the dismissed officers and the company’s opposition to the motion.  The dismissal issue was properly brought before the Labor Secretary and he was mistaken in ruling that the matter is legally within the exclusive jurisdiction of the labor arbiter to decide. Bagong Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa ng Triumph International, et al. vs. Secretary of Department of Labor and Employment, et al./Triumph International (phils.), Inc. vs. Bagong Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa ng Triumph International, et al., G.R. No. 167401, July 5, 2010.

Bargaining deadlock; award; findings of Secretary of Labor. Unless there is a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion, the Court cannot, and will not, interfere with the expertise of the Secretary of Labor. The award granted by the Labor Secretary in resolving the bargaining deadlock, drawn as they were from a close examination of the submissions of the parties, do not indicate any legal error, much less any grave abuse of discretion, and should not be disturbed. Bagong Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa ng Triumph International, et al. vs. Secretary of Department of Labor and Employment, et al./Triumph International (phils.), Inc. vs. Bagong Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa ng Triumph International, et al., G.R. No. 167401, July 5, 2010.

Dismissal of employees; just cause. Theft committed by an employee is a valid reason for his dismissal by the employer.  Although as a rule this Court leans over backwards to help workers and employees continue with their employment or to mitigate the penalties imposed on them, acts of dishonesty in the handling of company property, petitioner’s income in this case, are a different matter. Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort, Inc. vs. Nito Dual, G.R. No. 180660, July 20, 2010.

Dismissal of employees; requirements. The validity of an employee’s dismissal from service hinges on the satisfaction of the two substantive requirements for a lawful termination.  These are, first, whether the employee was accorded due process the basic components of which are the opportunity to be heard and to defend himself.  This is the procedural aspect.  And second, whether the dismissal is for any of the causes provided in the Labor Code of the Philippines.  This constitutes the substantive aspect. Erector Advertising Sign Group, Inc. and Arch Jimy C. Amoroto vs. Expedito Cloma, G.R. No. 167218, July 2, 2010.

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June 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

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

Labor Law

Acceptance of Benefits, render moot claim under other policies.  As in the case of Capili v. National Labor Relations Commission [273 SCRA 576], a claim for benefit under the company’s retirement plan becomes moot when the employee accepts retirement benefits on the basis of Article 287 of the Labor Code.  By Yuson’s acceptance of her retirement benefits through a compromise agreement entered into with her employer, she is deemed to have opted to retire under Article 287. Korean Air Co., Ltd and Suk Kyoo Kim v. Adelina A.S. Yuson, G.R. No. 170369, June 16, 2010.

Approval for company’s early retirement program; management prerogative.  Approval of applications for the early retirement program (“ERP”) is within the employer’s management prerogatives.  The exercise of management prerogative is valid as long as it is not done in a malicious, harsh, oppressive, vindictive, or wanton manner. In the present case, the Court sees no bad faith on the part of the employer.  The 21 August 2001 memorandum clearly states that petitioner, on its discretion, was offering ERP to its employees.  The memorandum also states that the reason for the ERP was to prevent further losses.  Petitioner did not abuse its discretion when it excluded respondent in the ERP because the latter is already about to retire.  To allow respondent to avail of the ERP would have been contrary to the purpose of the program. Korean Air Co., Ltd and Suk Kyoo Kim v. Adelina A.S. Yuson, G.R. No. 170369, June 16, 2010.

Constructive dismissal; definition; transfer as management prerogative. Constructive dismissal is defined as a quitting because continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely, or when there is a demotion in rank or a diminution of pay. It exists when an act of clear discrimination, insensibility or disdain by an employer has become so unbearable to the employee leaving him with no option but to forego with his continued employment.

Here, there was no diminution of petitioner’s salary and other benefits.  There was no evidence that she was harassed or discriminated upon, or that respondents made it difficult for her to continue with her other duties.  Absent any evidence of bad faith, it is within the exercise of respondents’ management prerogative to transfer some of petitioner’s duties, if, in their judgment, this would be more beneficial to the corporation.  Estrella Velasco vs. Transit Automotive Supply, Inc. and Antonio de Dios, G.R. No. 171327, June 18, 2010.

Constructive dismissal; off-detailing; resignation; notice requirement. The company evidently placed petitioner on floating status after being relieved of her position.  But, as the Court has repeatedly ruled, such act of “off-detailing” does not amount to a dismissal so long as the floating status does not continue beyond a reasonable time.  In this case, the employee’s floating status ran up to more than six months as of August 16, 2002. For this reason, the company may be considered to have constructively dismissed the employee from work as of that date. Hence, petitioner’s purported resignation on October 15, 2002 could not have been legally possible.

The company claims that it gave petitioner notices on August 23, 2002 and September 2, 2002, asking her to explain her failure to report for work and informing her that the company would treat such failure as lack of interest in her continued employment.  But these notices cannot possibly take the place of the notices required by law as they came more than six months after the company placed her on floating status, at which time, the employee is already deemed to have been constructively dismissed her from work.  Elsa S. Mali-on v. Equitable General Services Inc., G.R. No. 185269, June 29, 2010.

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January 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

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

Labor Law

CBA; coverage.  As regular employees, petitioners fall within the coverage of the bargaining unit and are therefore entitled to CBA benefits as a matter of law and contract.  Under the terms of the CBA, petitioners are members of the appropriate bargaining unit because they are regular rank-and-file employees and do not belong to any of the excluded categories. Most importantly, the labor arbiter’s decision of January 17, 2002 – affirmed all the way to the CA – ruled against the company’s submission that they are independent contractors. Thus, as regular rank-and-file employees, they fall within the CBA coverage. And, under the CBA’s express terms, they are entitled to its benefits.

CBA coverage is not only a question of fact, but of law and contract.  The factual issue is whether the petitioners are regular rank-and-file employees of the company.  The tribunals below uniformly answered this question in the affirmative. From this factual finding flows legal effects touching on the terms and conditions of the petitioners’ regular employment.  Farley Fulache, et al. vs. ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, G.R. No. 183810, January 21, 2010.

Employee benefits; permanent disability benefits.  In accordance with the avowed policy of the State to give maximum aid and full protection to labor, the Court applied the Labor Code concept of permanent total disability to Filipino seafarers. The Court held that the notion of disability is intimately related to the worker’s capacity to earn. What is compensated is not the employee’s injury or illness but his inability to work resulting in the impairment of his earning capacity; hence, disability should be understood less on its medical significance but more on the loss of earning capacity.

In the present case, petitioner was able to secure a “fit to work” certification from a doctor only after more than five months from the time he was medically repatriated due to a finding that his disability is considered permanent and total.  Significantly, petitioner remained unemployed even after he filed on February 26, 2002 his complaint to recover permanent total disability compensation and despite the August 31, 2005 Decision of the NLRC which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, ordering respondents to “allow complainant to resume sea duty.”

That petitioner was not likely to fully recover from his disability is mirrored by the Labor Arbiter’s finding that his illness would possibly recur once he resumes his sea duties.  This could very well be the reason why petitioner was not re-deployed by respondents.  Petitioner’s disability being then permanent and total, he is “entitled to 100% compensation, i.e., US$80,000 for officers,” as stipulated in par. 20.1.7 of the parties’ CBA.  Rizaldy M. Quitoriano vs. Jebsens Maritime, Inc./Ma. Theresa Gutay and/or Atle Jebsens Management A/S, G.R. No. 179868, January 21, 2010.

 

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