My friend was recently terminated from her job without prior notice. He was with the company for almost three years until he was verbally dismissed from his position effective three days after he was told to leave. Can he file any legal case against the company for not giving him longer notice regarding his dismissal?
As stated in your letter, your friend had been employed for three years with the company before his termination. For purposes of simplifying the opinion that we are going to render, we will assume that he was a regular employee of the said company at the time of his dismissal from service.
Employers are vested with the right to freely select or discharge their employees. Concomitant with this right is the obligation to strictly follow the State’s regulations in exercising the same. The provisions of the Labor Code, particularly Book Six Title I thereof, governing the termination of employment, provide for its grounds and the protection of employees by reason of unreasonable or arbitrary dismissal from service or employment.
Under Article 279 of the Labor Code, a regular employee shall not be terminated from service except for a just cause or when authorized by the Labor Code. This is otherwise known in legal parlance as security of tenure. An employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and to his back wages computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his reinstatement.
Furthermore, Articles 282, 283 and 284 of the same law provide for the grounds for just and authorized termination of the services of an employee, to wit:
“Art. 282. Termination by employer.- An employer may terminate an employment for any of the following just causes:
(a) Serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or representative in connection with his work;
(b) Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties;
(c) Fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative;
(d) Commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representative; and
(e) Other causes analogous to the foregoing.
“Art. 283. Closure of establishment and reduction of personnel. – The employer may also terminate the employment of any employee due to the installation of labor-saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment to prevent losses or the closing or cessation of operation of the establishment or undertaking unless the closing is for the purpose of circumventing the provisions of this title, by serving a written notice on the workers and the Department of Labor and Employment at least one (1) month before the intended date thereof. In case of termination due to the installation of labor-saving devices or redundancy, the worker affected thereby shall be entitled to a separation pay equivalent to at least one (1) month pay or to at least one (1) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. In case of retrenchment to prevent losses and in cases of closures or cessation of operations of establishment or undertaking not due to serious business losses or financial reverses, the separation pay shall be equivalent to one (1) month pay or at least one-half (1/2) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher. A fraction of at least six (6) months shall be considered one (1) whole year.
“Art. 284. Disease as ground for termination. – An employer may terminate the services of an employee who has been found to be suffering from any disease and whose continued employment is prohibited by law or is prejudicial to his health as well as the health of his co-employees: Provided, That he is paid separation pay equivalent to at least one month salary or to one-half month salary for every year of service, whichever is greater, a fraction of at least six months being considered as one whole year.”
The above provisions must be observed in the termination of employment of employees accompanied by the twin requirements of notice and hearing. Under the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Labor Code, any employer who seeks to dismiss a worker shall furnish him a written notice stating the particular acts or omission or causes constituting the grounds for his dismissal. He must also be afforded the opportunity to be heard and defend himself.
The twin requirements of notice and hearing constitute essential elements of due process in cases of employee’s dismissal: the requirement of notice is intended to inform the employee concerned of the employer’s intent to dismiss and the reason for the proposed dismissal; on the other hand, the requirement of hearing affords the employee an opportunity to answer the employer’s charges against him and accordingly to defend himself therefrom before dismissal is effected. Neither of these two requirements can be dispensed with without running afoul of the due process requirement of the 1987 Constitution. (Century Textile Mills, Inc. vs. NLRC, G.R. No. 77859. 161 SCRA 528. May 25, 1988)
In view of the foregoing, if the dismissal of your friend was not authorized or allowed by the Labor Code, he may file a complaint before the National Labor Relations Commission for illegal dismissal. The same remedy is applicable if he was not notified of the impending termination or given the opportunity to be heard, regardless of whether the termination is authorized or for a just or valid cause.
We hope that we were able to address your queries.
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