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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April 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

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

Dismissal; due process. When the Labor Code speaks of procedural due process, the reference is usually to the two (2)-written notice rule envisaged in Section 2 (III), Rule XXIII, Book V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code. MGG Marine Services, Inc. v. NLRC tersely described the mechanics of what may be considered a two-part due process requirement which includes the two-notice rule, “x x x one, of the intention to dismiss, indicating therein his acts or omissions complained against, and two, notice of the decision to dismiss; and an opportunity to answer and rebut the charges against him, in between such notices.”

Here, the first and second notice requirements have not been properly observed. The adverted memo would have had constituted the “charge sheet,” sufficient to answer for the first notice requirement, but for the fact that there is no proof such letter had been sent to and received by him. Neither was there compliance with the imperatives of a hearing or conference. Suffice it to point out that the record is devoid of any showing of a hearing or conference having been conducted. And the written notice of termination itself did not indicate all the circumstances involving the charge to justify severance of employment. For violating petitioner’s right to due process, the Supreme Court ordered the payment to petitioner of the amount of P30,000 as nominal damages. Armando Ailing vs. Jose B. Feliciano, Manuel F. San Mateo III, et al., G.R. No. 185829. April 25, 2012.

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February 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

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

Abandonment; elements. Respondents filed an illegal dismissal case against the petitioner-corporation. For its defense, petitioner-corporation alleged that the respondents abandoned their work and were not dismissed, and that it sent letters advising respondents to report for work, but they refused. The Court held that for abandonment to exist, it is essential (a) that the employee must have failed to report for work or must have been absent without valid or justifiable reason; and (b) that there must have been a clear intention to sever the employer-employee relationship manifested by some overt acts. The employer has the burden of proof to show the employee’s deliberate and unjustified refusal to resume his employment without any intention of returning. Mere absence is not sufficient. There must be an unequivocal intent on the part of the employee to discontinue his employment. Based on the evidence presented, the reason why respondents failed to report for work was because petitioner-corporation barred them from entering its construction sites. It is a settled rule that failure to report for work after a notice to return to work has been served does not necessarily constitute abandonment. The intent to discontinue the employment must be shown by clear proof that it was deliberate and unjustified. Petitioner-corporation failed to show overt acts committed by respondents from which it may be deduced that they had no more intention to work.  Respondents’ filing of the case for illegal dismissal barely four (4) days from their alleged abandonment is totally inconsistent with the known concept of what constitutes abandonment. E.G. & I. Construction Corporation and Edsel Galeos v. Ananias P. Sato, et al., G.R. No. 182070, February 16, 2011.

Certification election; petition for cancellation of union registration. Respondent union filed a petition for certification election. Petitioner moved to dismiss the petition for certification election alleging the pendency of a petition for cancellation of the union’s registration. The DOLE Secretary ruled in favor of the legitimacy of the respondent as a labor organization and ordered the immediate conduct of a certification election. Pending appeal in the Court of Appeals, the petition for cancellation was granted and became final and executory. Petitioner argued that the cancellation of the union’s certificate of registration should retroact to the time of its issuance. Thus, it claimed that the union’s petition for certification election and its demand to enter into collective bargaining agreement with the petitioner should be dismissed due to respondent’s lack of legal personality. The Court ruled that the pendency of a petition for cancellation of union registration does not preclude collective bargaining, and that an order to hold a certification election is proper despite the pendency of the petition for cancellation of the union’s registration because at the time the respondent union filed its petition, it still had the legal personality to perform such act absent an order cancelling its registration.  Legend International Resorts Limited v. Kilusang Manggagawa ng Legenda, G.R. No. 169754, February 23, 2011.

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September 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Labor Law and Procedure

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

Labor Law

Compensable illness. The CBA provision states: “If a seafarer/officer, due to no fault of his own, suffers permanent disability as a result of an accident while serving on board or while traveling to or from the vessel on Company’s business or due to marine peril, and as a result, his ability to work is permanently reduced, totally or partially, the Company shall pay him a disability compensation.” “Accident” has been defined as: A fortuitous circumstance, event, or happening, an event happening without any human agency, or if happening wholly or partly through human agency, an event which under the circumstances is unusual and unexpected by the person to whom it happens. The Court holds that the snap on the back of respondent was not an accident, but an injury sustained by respondent from carrying the heavy basketful of fire hydrant caps. The injury cannot be said to be the result of an accident or fortuitous event. It resulted from the performance of a duty.  Although the disability of respondent was not caused by an accident, his disability is still compensable under the CBA provision: “A seafarer/officer who is disabled as a result of any injury, and who is assessed as less than 50% permanently disabled, but permanently unfit for further service at sea in any capacity, shall also be entitled to a 100% compensation.” NFD International Manning Agents, Inc./Barber Ship Management Ltd.  vs. Esmeraldo C. Illescas, G.R. No. 183054, September 29, 2010.

Dismissal; due process. SPO2 Roaquin is entitled to reinstatement since he was dismissed from the service without administrative due process. No one ever filed an administrative action against him in connection with the crime of which he was charged in court. At any rate, assuming that someone filed an administrative charge against Roaquin, still the law required the PNP to give him notice of such charge and the right to answer the same. The PNP gave him no chance to show why he should not be discharged nor does the record show that the PNP investigated him or conducted a summary proceeding to determine his liability in connection with the murder of which he was charged in court.  While the PNP may have validly suspended Roaquin from the service pending the adjudication of the criminal case against him, he is entitled, after his acquittal, to reinstatement and payment of the salaries, allowances, and other benefits withheld from him by reason of his discharge from the service. P/Chief Superintendent Roberto L. Calinisan, etc., et al. vs. SPO2 Reynaldo L. Roaquin, G.R. No. 159588, September 15, 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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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.

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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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