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The Remedies of Law and Jurisprudence on Illegally Dismissed Employees

       This research dwells on a legal analysis of law and jurisprudence affecting employees who were dismissed illegally albeit in violation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, The Labor Code of the Philippines and existing jurisprudence.

            This research speaks on the relationship between an employee and an employer who signed a contract. Such contract will determine if the agreed parties have set terms and conditions and bound to have legal effect. However, the company or institution laid down separate rules and established stringent procedures aside from the mentioned remedies given to a dismissed employee. As a result, the contract between the parties was based more on the provisions of the company or the institution and not the external provisions. Such external provisions are the mandated of the state to afford full protection to labor so that employers do not belittle the employee’s constitutional rights.

            Further, this research particularly seeks questions as to why an employer dismissed an employee illegally without valid legal grounds. Thus, Due process is not met in such termination and the employee has no opportunity to be heard and to explain one’s side. There are many civil cases filed in the Supreme Court or lower courts with regard to the dismissal of employees and result to the moral and exemplary damages that was paid to them. Moral damages are for their mental anguish, serious anxiety, wounded feelings and sleepless nights, and exemplary damage to discourage other employers from doing the same thing.

            Lastly, these dismissed employees have a full protection from illegal dismissal through the remedies of the Philippine existing laws and jurisprudence. Though, the prerogative and wider latitude of discretion of an employer is sometimes the basis for the dismissal of such employees. Most of the cases were decided in favor of labor and many companies were directed to reinstate illegally dismissed employees to their positions without loss of seniority rights and to pay them with full back wages and other reliefs, like attorney’s fees and moral damages in some instances. There were others, however, that were won by management in cases that were found without merit.

 

  1. Introduction

            An employer in the Philippines cannot easily terminate an employee since employment is a property right protected by the 1987 Philippine constitution, special laws, and existing jurisprudence laid down by courts. However, the employment practices in the Philippines deals with wrongful termination and breach of contract of such employee. Substantive and procedural due processes have to be observed. Otherwise, the employer may be held liable for illegal dismissal.

            The common practice in the Philippines is the situations wherein an employee has no right to continue such service since there are no terms on the right of the workers to security of tenure. Further, these mentioned situations will lead to the unfair dismissal of an employee, and thus, it pertains to one of the concern issues in labor law. The Labor Code of the Philippines covers the illegal dismissal of an employee and under Article 279 of the said code, as amended, security of tenure has been construed to mean as “the employer shall not terminate the services of an employee except for a just cause or when authorized by the said code. An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement.”

            The prerogative of the company to hire and terminate will end where the workers’ right to security of tenure and the due process begins. The employers have the right and inherent freedom to discipline their employees and to terminate their employment, other than the Constitution and the Labor Code have laid down strict rules of the employer on the just and authorized causes for exercising such extreme option, as well as established stringent procedures for the manner of dismissing people. For what is involved in such situations is not just work or occupation, but a livelihood, the source of living of the worker involved, and his family.

            The law recognizes the nature of employee’s employment which depends on the contract agreed upon by the employer and the employee. Employers are not prohibited from terminating the employment contract of their employees and employees are also allowed to terminate their contracts with the company they are working with. However, in case of dismissal of an employee, it should be emphasized that there must be a legal basis for the termination of such contract and must be done in a lawful manner.

            The employment agreement voluntarily agreed between an employer and an employee shall state and define the conditions of such employment. The following are the nature of employment:

  1. Regular or casual
  2. Probationary
  3. Project-based
  4. Fixed-period of term
  5. Seasonal
  6. Casual

            These kinds of nature of employment may differ due to different reasons. For regular employment, the employer benefits from a full-time employee who in turn will receive all statutory and company benefits. The benefits they will receive are subsidized health care, paid vacations, holidays, sick time, or contributions to a retirement plan. A regular employee is one who has been engaged to perform activities which are “usually necessary or undesirable in the usual business or trade of the employer”.  The definition of a regular employee in the Labor Code of the Philippines does not clearly define the duties and responsibilities of the employee. The phrase “usually necessary”, may mean differ as to the case for every kind of regular employee and the usual norm of the responsibilities is to clean the office or prepare coffee. These have been the common practice in numerous labor complaints.

            Meanwhile, in probationary employment, the employer has the opportunity to assess the performance of the employee who will prove that he is suitable for the position in a six month period. As for project, fixed-term or term, seasonal, and casual employment, the employer and the employee mutually benefit from an arrangement where they will be committed to continuing employment after the expiration of the project, term, season, or incidental activity.

         A casual employee who has rendered at least one year of service, whether continuous or broken, with respect to the activity in which he is employed and his employment continues while such activity exists.  A probationary employee is a disciplinary procedure as the purpose of the probationary period is to establish the employee’s suitability for the job. In the period of employment, where there is an allegation of serious misconduct against a probationary employee, the matter will be investigated in accordance with the due process through the disciplinary procedure. There are instances that investigation has not made and results in the immediate termination of the employee where in fact the employee has not made any wrongdoing. This is due to the fact that the fault may be given to the manager who is responsible for signing off the probationary period or another appropriate manager if the company will not terminate the employee.

            A project employee may perform in a continuous rehiring of the project employee event after the cessation of a project and the tasks performed by the alleged project employees is vital, necessary, and indispensable to the usual business or trade of the employer. On the other hand, Employees on fixed term or specified purpose contracts who fail to meet the required standards of performance or conduct may have their employment terminated within the contract period and depends on the circumstances of the particular case of the contract, it can be the employee’s length of service or the nature of the unsatisfactorily performance or misconduct. As a basis, there are sometimes potential employees appointed for a fixed term or specified purpose contract wherein their employers are terminated their contract immediately without assessing the employee’s performance.

            The employment of an employee, despite their nature, is an issue in a labor dispute and need to clearly determine through well-crafted employment contracts and company policies. The concern on the controversial issue of the unfair dismissal has been expressed by the government and that some unfair dismissal procedures demand law and jurisprudence. The concept of unjustifiable and unfair dismissal to provide statutory protection against employees will order to strike balance between management autonomy and the protection of the workers’ security of tenure in employment. This analysis will allow employees to challenge their termination at the initiative of the employer on the basis that it was harsh, unjust and unreasonable.

  1. Illegally Dismissed Employees

          This study clearly provides remedies of the existing laws and jurisprudence of such illegally dismissed employees. The due process of dismissal shall observe and there must be a legal basis for such termination, this must be one of the grounds for termination as stated in the employment contract signed by the employer and the employee. Hence, the illegal dismissal of an employee should cover by existing laws of the state and the rules or regulations imposed by the employer.

            The due process requirement is met when there is an opportunity to be heard and to explain one’s side of both parties. Both parties may be afforded ample opportunity to be heard by means of any method such as verbal or written for a just and reasonable way.

          Further, the Philippine Constitution says, no involuntary servitude in any form shall exist except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. In view of the prohibition on involuntary servitude, an employee is given the right to resign under Article 285 of the Labor Code. The provision recognizes two kinds of resignation – without cause and with cause. If the resignation is without cause, the employee is required to give a thirty-day advance written notice to the employer, to enable the employer to look for a replacement to prevent work disruption. If the employee fails to give a written notice, he or she runs the risk of incurring liability for damages. The same provision also indicates the just causes for resignation (with cause):

  • Serious insult to the honor and person of the employee;
  • Inhuman and unbearable treatment;
  • Crime committed against the person of the employee or any of the immediate members of the employee’s family; and
  • Other analogous causes.

            In this second type of resignation, the employee need not serve a written notice. Forced resignation is not allowed and is considered “constructive” dismissal – a dismissal in disguise. Employee retirement is either voluntary or compulsory under Article 287 of the Labor Code.

The mentioned remedies and the existing laws and jurisprudence will govern in case an employer mistreats people in a company or institution. Further, employers may have the right to terminate an employee, but employers cannot terminate indiscriminately.  As stated in article 19 of the Civil Code, every person in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties must act with justice, give every one his due and observe honesty and good faith.

            Lastly, the termination of an employee must be based on a just cause, they should have given the employee a written notice informing the ground for dismissal as well as a subsequent notice informing of their final decision to terminate such employment.

  1. Conclusion

            The Labor Code of the Philippines, the 1987 Philippine Constitution, and the existing jurisprudence has been the protection or remedies of an employee who was illegally dismissed.

            This study briefly examines the unfair dismissal of an employee and to show that the due process is not difficult to adhere for employers.  Identifying the reason why an employee was dismissed is essential to be the basis on any of the just or authorized causes stated under the laws and jurisprudence in the Philippines. Just causes are blameworthy acts on the part of the employee such as serious misconduct, willful disobedience, gross and habitual neglect of duties, fraud or willful breach of trust, the commission of a crime and other analogous causes as stated in Article 282 of the Labor Code of the Philippines.

            The researcher conducted this study for the assessment of existing laws and jurisprudence. The questions mainly in this study are whether the mentioned remedies will protect the employee’s right to security of tenure or whether the laws and jurisprudence will not violate the existing legal provisions for the dismissal of an employee and there are laws that will also protect employers in the dismissal of employees.

            Authorized causes of illegal dismissal have of two types: first, business reasons and second, disease. The business reasons are an installation of labor-saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment, and closure or cessation of operation as stated in Article 283 of the Labor Code of the Philippines. Before the employer can terminate employment on the ground of disease, he must obtain from a competent public health authority a certification that the employee’s disease is of such a nature and at such a stage that it can no longer be cured within a period of six months even with medical attention as stated in Article 284 of the Labor Code of the Philippines and the Implementing Rules of Book VI under the Labor Code of the Philippines.

            This study is focused on discussions regarding the law and jurisprudence that will govern to an employee particularly those employees in the private sector whose dismissals are illegal. Such laws are the 1987 Philippine Constitution as the supreme law of the land, and special laws that took effect upon carefully scrutinize by legislators. On the other hand, the doctrines or principles laid down by the Courts in the Philippines are the jurisprudence used in this study.

            This study is also limited to the equality of rights exists between employer and employee relationship. While the employer cannot force the employee to work against his or her will, neither can the employee compel the employer to continue giving him or her work if there is a lawful reason not to do so. Thus, the employer may terminate the services of an employee for just or authorized causes after following the procedure laid down by law, but the employer has the burden of proving the lawfulness of the employee’s dismissal in the proper forum. Further, the factors that determine the issue include who has the power to select the employee, who pays the employee’s wages, who has the power to dismiss the employee, and who exercises control of the methods and results by which the work of the employee is accomplished.

            Lastly, those hired on a temporary basis, such as for a “term” or “fixed period” are not regular employees, but are “contractual employees.” Consequently, there is no illegal dismissal when their services are terminated by reason of the expiration of their contracts. Lack of notice of termination is of no consequence because a contract for employment for a definite period terminates by its own term at the end of such period. Further, this study examines the manner of dismissal to an employee who is illegally dismissed regardless of what specific function such employees are involved. Whether employees prerogative or personal reasons.

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Elegado vs. Court of Tax Appeals, G.R. No. L-68385 May 12, 1989 – a case digest

ignorance of the law excuses no oneFacts:

On March 14, 1976, Warren Taylor Graham, an American national formerly resident in the Philippines, died in Oregon, U.S.A.  As he left certain shares of stock in the Philippines, his son, Ward Graham, filed an estate tax return on September 16, 1976, with the Philippine Revenue Representative in San Francisco, U.S.A. in the amount of P96,509.35 on February 9, 1978. On January 18, 1977, the decedent’s then appointed Ildefonso Elegado,  as his attorney-in-fact for the allowance of the will in the Philippines. He filed a second estate tax return with the Bureau of Internal Revenue on June 4, 1980 in the amount of P72,948.87. While, the Commissioner filed in the probate proceedings a motion for the allowance of the basic estate tax of P96,509.35 as assessed on February 9, 1978. The petitioner regarded the motion as an implied denial of the protest against the second assessment of P72,948.87. On this, he filed on September 15, 1981, a petition for review with the Court of Tax Appeals challenging the said assessment.

Issue:

Whether or not the foreign lawyers are excused from compliance with the law for the reason of ignorance

Held:

Yes, foreign lawyers can claim a like ignorance, it stands to reason that foreigners cannot be any less bound by our own laws in our own country. On the other hand, our own lawyers and taxpayers cannot claim a similar preference because they are not allowed to claim a like ignorance. While in the estate tax return, the error can no longer be rectified because the original assessment has long become final and executory. If that assessment was not challenged on time and in accordance with the prescribed procedure that error committed was not by the respondents but by the decedent’s estate itself which the petitioner represents.

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Macadangdang vs. Court of Appeals; G.R. No. L-49542 September 12, 1980 – a case digest

judgmentThis petition for review seeks to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. No. 54618-R which reversed the decision of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Branch IX dismissing the action for recognition and support filed by respondent Elizabeth Mejias against petitioner Antonio Macadangdang, and which found minor Rolando to be the illegitimate son of petitioner who was ordered to give a monthly support of P350.00 until his alleged son reaches the age of majority. Elizabeth Mejias is married to Crispin Anahaw. Sometime in March 1967 she allegedly had intercourse with Antonio Macadangdang. Elizabeth alleges that due to the affair, she and her husband separated in 1967. On October 30, 1967 (7 months or 210 days after the illicit encounter) – she gave birth to a baby boy who was named Rolando Macadangdang in baptismal rites held on December 24, 1967. On April 25, 1972, Elizabeth filed a complaint for recognition and support against Rolando. On June 30, 1972, Rolando file his answer opposing Elizabeth’s claim and praying for its dismissal. On August 9, 1972, the lower court issued a Pre-trial Order formalizing certain stipulations, admissions and factual issues on which both parties agreed and on February 27, 1973, the lower court dismissed the complaint. The decision invoked positive provisions of the Civil Code and Rules of Court and authorities. On June 2, 1978, the CA reversed the decision of the lower court. They ruled that minor Rolando to be an illegitimate son of Antonio Macadangdang. A motion for reconsideration was filed but was denied by CA.

Issue:

Whether or not the child Rolando is conclusively presumed the legitimate child of the spouses Elizabeth Mejias and Crispin Anahaw.

Held:

YES. Under Article 255 of the civil code, legitimacy of a child is defined as Children born after one hundred and eighty days following the celebration of the marriage, and before three hundred days following its dissolution or the separation of the spouses shall be presumed to be legitimate.  The child Rolando is conclusively presumed to be the legitimate son of Elizabeth and her husband. During the initial 120 days of the 300 which preceded the birth of the child, there was no concrete or substantial proof that was presented to establish physical impossibility of access between Elizabeth and Crispin. Elizabeth and Crispin continued to live in the same province therefore there is still the possibility of access to one another. The fact that the child was born a mere seven (7) months after the initial sexual contact between Antonio and Elizabeth is another proof that the said child was not of Antonio since, from indications, Rolando came out as a normal full-term baby. The presumption of legitimacy is based on the assumption that there is sexual union in marriage, particularly during the period of conception. In order to overthrow the presumption it must be shown beyond reasonable doubt that there was no access as could have enabled the husband to be the father of the child. Sexual intercourse is to be presumed when personal access is not disproved. The policy of the law is to confer legitimacy upon children born in wedlock when access of the husband at the time of conception and there is the presumption that a child so born is the child of the husband and is legitimate even though the wife was guilty of infidelity during the possible period of conception. And it must be stressed that Rolando has no birth certificate of Baptism (attached in the List of Exhibits) which was prepared in the absence of the alleged father [petitioner]. In our jurisprudence, this Court has been more definite in its pronouncements on the value of baptismal certificates. The separation of Elizabeth and Crispin was not proven. The finding of the court of appeals that Elizabeth and Crispin were separated was based solely on the testimony of the wife which is self-serving. Elizabeth’s testimony is insufficient without further evidence. The conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmise, and conjectures and Judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts. The findings of facts of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court and said findings of facts are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based and when the finding of facts of the Court of Appeals is premised on the absence of evidence and is contradicted by evidence on record.

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Co Giok Lun vs. Jose Co; G.R. No. 184454, August 3, 2011 – a case digest

Facts:court judgment

The case involves two lots allegedly co-owned by two brothers, petitioner Co Giok Lun (Lun) and Co Bon Fieng (Fieng), and the father of respondent Jose Co (Co). The lots are situated in Sorsogon province, one in the town of Gubat and the other in the town of Barcelona. The Gubat property was allegedly acquired by Lun from the P8,000.00 capital inherited  from their father, and later named under Fieng only since it has been a common practice and custom in China that properties intended for the children are placed in the name of the eldest child. Lun and Fieng set up a business, selling and trading of dry goods, called the Philippine Honest and Company in the Gubat property.

The Barcelona property, on the other hand, was acquired by Chaco in 1923 while he was still doing his business in Gubat.

The petitioners insist that their predecessor-in-interest Lun co-owned the Gubat and Barcelona properties with his brother Fieng. To prove co-ownership over the Gubat property, petitioners presented the following:

  1. Tax declarations from 1929 to 1983 under the name of Fieng but paid by Lun;
  2. The renewal certificate from Malayan Insurance Company Inc.;
  3. The insurance contract; and
  4. The statements of account from Supreme Insurance Underwriters which named Lun as administrator of the property.

To prove their right over the Barcelona property as legal heirs under intestate succession, petitioners presented a Deed of Sale dated 24 August 1923 between Chaco, as buyer, and Gabriel Gredona and Engracia Legata, as sellers, involving a price consideration of P1,200.

On the other hand, respondents presented notarized documents: (1) Deed of Sale dated 13 October 1935, and (2) Sale of Real Property dated 6 August 1936 showing that the former owners of the Gubat property entered into a sale transaction with Fieng, as buyer and Lun, as a witness to the sale. They also presented tax declarations in the name of Fieng from 1937 to 1958. After Fieng’s death, Co declared the Gubat property in his name in the succeeding tax declarations. Likewise, the respondents presented documents proving the declaration of the Barcelona property in the name of Co.

 

Issue: Whether or not Lun and Fieng holds no co-ownership over the Gubat and Barcelona properties and Fieng is the exclusive owner of both properties.

HELD:

The CA holds that the evidence of petitioners was insufficient or immaterial to warrant a positive finding of co-ownership over the Gubat and Barcelona properties. The CA correctly observed that petitioners failed to substantiate with reasonable certainty that Chaco gave Fieng a start-up capital of P8,000 to be used by Lun and Fieng in setting up a business, and that the Philippine Honest and Company was a partnership between Lun and Fieng, and that the Deed of Sale dated 24 August 1923 involving the Barcelona property is sufficient to establish co-ownership. Also, petitioners were not able to prove the existence of the alleged Chinese custom of placing properties in the name of the eldest child as provided under Article 12 of the Civil Code. In contrast, respondents were able to show documents of sale from the original owners of the Gubat property rendering the claim of custom as immaterial. Also, respondents sufficiently established that Fieng was the registered owner of the Gubat and Barcelona properties while Lun was merely an administrator. The court DENIES the petition and AFFIRMS the Decision dated 23 April 2008 (ruled in favor of the respondents) and Resolution dated 10 September 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV. No. 85920 (Denied the motion for reconsideration of the Petitioners).

 

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Lawyers have heart

lawyer with a heart

Keep Calm, I Am Your Lawyer.

The start of reviewing and learning to pass for the bar examination is in the first day of the class in the first year of first sem. The four years of staying in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines College of Law will give me a lot of knowledge about the laws, its practices and principles that I can use in my everyday life especially in my future career in this field. As a lawyer, I will be responsible to help other people who seek legal guidance and make them feel that justices are really govern in the Philippine Republic over the money of those in the higher authority that is sometimes happen just to win their case. I am confident that the judgment of the judicial department will be fair with regard to the rights and liabilities of any person, whatever class the people came from. And one day, I will be one of the Judges who presides the hearing in court.

A lawyer must know how to balance what is right and what is wrong based in the rules and principles governing the structure and processes of societal relations especially in this generation where technology is everywhere. We see and hear the news that are sometimes we do not know it’s true meaning and sometimes misleading to the reality. The media has a powerful influence to our citizen. A lawyer or judge must know how to handle this.

“The rich have far greater chances than the poor of obtaining better-constructed cases.”

In the Philippines, some Filipinos cannot afford a lawyer who can support, serve, and give legal advise through legal guidance. As a lawyer in the future, I will be the one who will work in the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) so that I will give my full support for the people who needs assistance in legal process. I will possess those qualities and get a mastery to the profession through my learning process in studying law and to perform my goal in my future career.

The legal profession is a continuous learning process and through that process, I will make laws for the benefit of everyone and for the country wherein for our next generations will benefit for good.