July 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

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

Dismissal; due process.  Due process requirement is met when there is simply an opportunity to be heard and to explain one’s side even if no hearing is conducted. An employee may be afforded ample opportunity to be heard by means of any method, verbal or written, whether in a hearing, conference or some other fair, just and reasonable way. After receiving the first notice apprising him of the charges against him, the employee may submit a written explanation (which may be in the form of a letter, memorandum, affidavit or position paper) and offer evidence in support thereof, like relevant company records and the sworn statements of his witnesses. For this purpose, he may prepare his explanation personally or with the assistance of a representative or counsel. He may also ask the employer to provide him copy of records material to his defense. His written explanation may also include a request that a formal hearing or conference be held. In such a case, the conduct of a formal hearing or conference becomes mandatory, just as it is where there exist substantial evidentiary disputes or where company rules or practice requires an actual hearing as part of employment pre-termination procedure.

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June 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

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

Appeal; issue of employer-employee relationship raised for the first time on appeal. It is a fundamental rule of procedure that higher courts are precluded from entertaining matters neither alleged in the pleadings nor raised during the proceedings below, but ventilated for the first time only in a motion for reconsideration or on appeal. The alleged absence of employer-employee relationship cannot be raised for the first time on appeal. The resolution of this issue requires the admission and calibration of evidence and the LA and the NLRC did not pass upon it in their decisions. Petitioner is bound by its submissions that respondent is its employee and it should not be permitted to change its theory. Such change of theory cannot be tolerated on appeal, not on account of the strict application of procedural rules, but as a matter of fairness. Duty Free Philippines Services, Inc. vs. Manolito Q. Tria. G.R. No. 174809. June 27, 2012.

Dismissal; abandonment. Abandonment cannot be inferred from the actuations of respondent. When he discovered that his time card was off the rack, he immediately inquired from his supervisor.  He later sought the assistance of his counsel, who wrote a letter addressed to Polyfoam requesting that he be re-admitted to work.  When said request was not acted upon, he filed the instant illegal dismissal case.  These circumstances clearly negate the intention to abandon his work. Polyfoam-RGC International, Corporation and Precilla A. Gramaje vs. Edgardo Concepcion. G.R. No. 172349, June 13, 2012.

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March 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

Here are select March 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on labor law and procedure.

Dismissal; constructive dismissal. Constructive dismissal exists where there is cessation of work because continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely, as an offer involving a demotion in rank and a diminution in pay. Constructive dismissal is a dismissal in disguise or an act amounting to dismissal but made to appear as if it were not. In constructive dismissal cases, the employer is, concededly, charged with the burden of proving that its conduct and action or the transfer of an employee are for valid and legitimate grounds such as genuine business necessity. In the instant case, the overt act relied upon by petitioner is not only a doubtful occurrence but is, if it did transpire, even consistent with the dismissal from employment posited by the respondent. The factual appraisal of the Court of Appeals is correct. Petitioner was displeased after incurring expenses for respondent’s medical check-up and, it is credible that, thereafter, respondent was prevented entry into the work premises. This is tantamount to constructive dismissal. The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals that the incredibility of petitioner’s submission about abandonment of work renders credible the position of respondent that she was prevented from entering the property. This was even corroborated by the affidavits of Siarot and Mendoza which were made part of the records of this case. Ma. Melissa A. Galang vs. Julia Malasuqui, G.R. No. 174173. March 7, 2012.

Dismissal; loss of trust and confidence. The rule is long and well settled that, in illegal dismissal cases like the one at bench, the burden of proof is upon the employer to show that the employee’s termination from service is for a just and valid cause. The employer’s case succeeds or fails on the strength of its evidence and not on the weakness of that adduced by the employee, in keeping with the principle that the scales of justice should be tilted in favor of the latter in case of doubt in the evidence presented by them. Often described as more than a mere scintilla, the quantum of proof is substantial evidence which is understood as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, even if other equally reasonable minds might conceivably opine otherwise. Failure of the employer to discharge the foregoing onus would mean that the dismissal is not justified and therefore illegal.

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June 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

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

Appeal; decision of DOLE Secretary. For petitioner’s refusal to comply with his deployment assignment, respondent manning agency filed a complaint against him for breach of contract before the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).  The POEA penalized petitioner with one year suspension from overseas deployment. The suspension was reduced to six months by the Secretary of Labor. Petitioner appealed the latter’s decision with the Office of the President (OP). The Supreme Court ruled that petitioner’s appeal was erroneous. The proper remedy to question the decisions or orders of the Secretary of Labor is via Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65.   Appeals to the OP in labor cases have been eliminated, except those involving national interest over which the President may assume jurisdiction. The present case does not affect national interest. Hence, petitioner’s appeal to the OP did not toll the running of the period and the assailed decision of the Secretary of Labor is deemed to have attained finality. Miguel Dela Pena Barairo vs. Office of the President and MST Marine Services (Phils.) Inc., G.R. No. 189314. June 15, 2011

Appeal from decisions of labor arbiter; bond requirement for perfection of appeal may be relaxed in meritorious cases. The posting of a bond is indispensable to the perfection of an appeal in cases involving monetary awards from the decision of the labor arbiter.  However, under Section 6, Rule VI of the NLRC’s Revised Rules of Procedure, the bond may be reduced albeit only (1) on meritorious grounds and (2) upon posting of a partial bond in a reasonable amount in relation to the monetary award. For this purpose, the NLRC is not precluded from conducting a preliminary determination of the employer’s financial capability to post the required bond, without necessarily passing upon the merits.  In the present case, the NLRC gravely abused its discretion in denying petitioner’s motion to reduce bond peremptorily without considering the evidence presented by petitioner showing that it was under a state of receivership. Such circumstance constitutes meritorious grounds to reduce the bond. Moreover, the petitioner exhibited its good faith by posting a partial cash bond during the reglementary period. University Plans, Inc. vs. Belinda P. Solano, et al., G.R. No. 170416, June 22, 2011 

Certiorari; substantial compliance. The three material dates which should be stated in the petition for certiorari under Rule 65 are the dates when the notice of judgment was received, when a motion for reconsideration was filed and when the notice of the denial of the motion for reconsideration was received. These dates should be reflected in the petition to enable the reviewing court to determine if the petition was filed on time. In the present case, the petition filed with the Court of Appeals failed to state when petitioner received the assailed NLRC Decision and when he filed his partial motion for reconsideration.  However, this omission is not at all fatal because these material dates are reflected in petitioner’s Partial Motion for Reconsideration attached to the petition.  The failure to state these two dates in the petition may be excused if the same are evident from the records of the case.  The Court further stated that the more important material date which must be duly alleged in the petition is the date of receipt of the resolution of denial of the motion for reconsideration. Since petitioner has duly complied with this rule, there was substantial compliance with the requisite formalities. William Endeliseo Barroga vs. Data Center College of the Philippines, et al., G.R. No. 174158. June 27, 2011

Collective bargaining agreement; duty of parties to maintain status quo pending renegotiation. Article 253 of the Labor Code mandates the parties to keep the status quo and to continue in full force and effect the terms and conditions of the existing agreement during the 60-day period prior to the expiration of the old CBA and/or until a new agreement is reached by the parties. The law does not provide for any exception nor qualification on which economic provisions of the existing agreement are to retain its force and effect. Likewise, the law does not distinguish between a CBA duly agreed upon by the parties and an imposed CBA like the one in the present case. Hence, considering that no new CBA had been, in the meantime, agreed upon by respondent GMC and the Union, the provisions of the imposed CBA continues to have full force and effect until a new CBA is entered into by the parties. General Milling Corporation-Independent Labor Union [GMC-ILU] vs. General Milling Corporation/General Milling Corporation vs.General Milling Corporation-Independent Labor Union [GMC-ILU], et al., G.R. Nos. 183122/183889, June 15, 2011.

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April 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

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

Dismissal; breach of trust and confidence. Petitioner was employed as Assistant Vice-President of the Jewelry Department in respondent bank. His employment was terminated on the ground of willful breach of trust and confidence. Jurisprudence provides for two requisites for dismissal on the ground of loss of trust and confidence; (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. Loss of trust and confidence, to be a valid cause for dismissal, must be based on a willful breach of trust and founded on clearly established facts. The basis for the dismissal must be clearly and convincingly established but proof beyond reasonable doubt is not necessary. Furthermore, the burden of establishing facts as bases for an employer’s loss of confidence is on the employer. The court held that the termination of petitioner was without just cause and therefore illegal.  Although the first requisite was present, the respondent failed to satisfy the second requisite.  Respondent bank was not able to show any concrete proof that petitioner had participated in the approval of the questioned accounts. The invocation by respondent of the loss of trust and confidence as ground for petitioner’s termination has therefore no basis at all. James Ben L. Jerusalem v. Keppel Monte Bank, et al., G.R. No. 169564. April 6, 2011.

Breach of Trust and Confidence; duties of employee. Petitioner was employed as Assistant Vice-President in respondent bank. His employment was terminated on the ground of willful breach of trust and confidence for endorsing VISA card applicants who later turned out to be impostors resulting in financial losses to respondent bank. The court held that petitioner was illegally dismissed. As provided in Article 282 of the Labor Code, an employer may terminate an employee’s employment for fraud or willful breach of trust reposed in him. However, 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. The act of betrayal of trust, if any, must have been committed by the employee in connection with the performance of his function or position. The court found that the element of ‘work-connection’ was not present in this case since petitioner was assigned under the Jewelry department, and therefore had nothing to do with the approval of VISA Cards, which was under a different department altogether. James Ben L. Jerusalem v. Keppel Monte Bank, et al., G.R. No. 169564. April 6, 2011.

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December 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

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

Dismissal; due process;  trial-type hearing is not essential. The essence of due process is an opportunity to be heard or, as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain one’s side. Records show that Aboc was duly notified through a letter asking him to explain why his services should not be terminated. In fact, he replied to the same by submitting a written explanation. He was likewise duly afforded ample opportunity to defend himself during a conference conducted.  Aboc’s contention that the conference he attended cannot substitute the hearing mandated by the Labor Code is bereft of merit. A formal trial-type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential to due process. It is enough that the parties are given a fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their respective sides of the controversy and to present supporting evidence on which a fair decision can be based. Antonio A. Aboc  vs. Metropolitan Bank And Trust Company /  Metropolitan Bank And Trust Company  vs.  Antonio A. Aboc, G.R. Nos.  170542-43  and G.R. No. 176460, December 13, 2010.

Dismissal; due process; trial-type hearing is not essential. In dismissal cases, the essence of due process is a fair and reasonable opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity to explain one’s side. A formal or trial type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential. Neither is it necessary that the witnesses be cross-examined. In the instant case, there was a proceeding where the respondent was apprised of the charges against him as well as of his rights. Thereafter, he was notified of the formal charges against him and was required to explain in writing why he should not be dismissed for serious misconduct.  A formal hearing was conducted and subsequently, respondent received a Notice of Termination informing him that after a careful evaluation, he was found liable as charged and dismissed from the service due to gross misconduct. Clearly, respondent was afforded ample opportunity to air his side and defend himself.  Hence, there was due process.  Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, vs. Eusebio M. Honrado, G.R. No. 189366, December 8, 2010.

Dismissal; due process. Respondent harps on the fact that his dismissal was preconceived because there was already a decision to terminate him even before he was given the show cause memorandum. Contrary to respondent’s allegations, he was given more than enough opportunity to defend himself.  The audit committee’s conclusion to dismiss respondent from the service was merely recommendatory.  It was not conclusive upon the petitioner company.  This is precisely the reason why the petitioner still conducted further investigations.  To reiterate, respondent was properly informed of the charges and had every opportunity to rebut the accusations and present his version.  Respondent was not denied due process of law for he was adequately heard as the very essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard. Equitable PCI Bank (Now Banco De Oro Unibank, Inc.), vs. Castor A. Dompor, G.R. Nos. 163293 & 163297, December 8, 2010.

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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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