When job termination may be justified

Published by rudy Date posted on April 19, 2009

Dear PAO,

I have been wanting to seek guidance regarding my recent dismissal from work. Please help me. I feel that I have been wronged but I do not know how to proceed and I am currently without funds.

Here are the details:

I have worked for an international company for almost four years and with exemplary records. I was a manager with a permanent status.

Last November, I was accused of talking with the staff without the knowledge of management. It was actually something that has been practiced a long time already, but being the new management and with a very distinct dislike for me, the management charged me under a company policy that carried a penalty of dismissal.

They asked me to write an explanation letter and I did. I have explained thoroughly why I should not be dismissed from service. They asked me to attend a conference regarding my explanation and only the Human Resource (HR) Manager, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Chief Operations Officer (COO) and the witness for the proceedings were present.

Everything was recorded in audio with transcription. Regardless of my well-written explanation, I was dismissed. The reason was that I was not fit for the job. This, when my performance was outstanding. I signed the Dismissal Notice not fully knowing my rights. The HR Manager escorted me out and I, thinking of my future employment, asked the HR Manager if I have the option to resign. She readily gave me the option.

And now here are my questions:

1. Can I still declare “illegal dismissal” even if I resigned under internal duress?

2. Can I be dismissed not because of what they have accused me of but because they feel that after the explanation and all, I am not fit to be a manager?

I asked (through a lawyer) to have a copy of the minutes of that conference which I have signed together with the CEO and the COO, so that I will have a proof that I was initially dismissed and their reason was because I resigned.

3. Can I file a case for their wrongdoing? This company is known for its harsh and unjust penalties but so far no one had the guts to file a case.

The CEO and the COO are foreigners with very little regard to the law in terms of terminating staff. They have terminated my services last January 19.

Kindly help me. The management practice is an affront to the Filipino worker. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you for your time.

                                 V. B. T.


Dear V. B. T.,

The crux of your problem is the legality of your dismissal from service. At the outset, it is worth discussing the concept of a valid dismissal in order for us to determine whether or not you were illegally dismissed from service.

In a plethora of cases, the Supreme Court constantly held that to constitute a valid dismissal of a regular employee, two requisites must concur: (1) the dismissal must be for any of the causes provided for by law, and (2) only after the employee has been notified in writing and given the opportunity to be heard and defend himself as required by the rules.

In line with this are the provisions in the Labor Code of the Philippines prescribing the valid causes, which can be relied upon by employers in terminating the services of an employee.

Article 282 of the said Code provides for the “just” causes of dismissal, to wit:

“Art. 282. TERMINATION BY EMPLOYER. – An employer may terminate an employment for any of the following 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.”

According to your letter, you were accused by management of talking with the staff without their knowledge. As a result, you were charged for violation of a company policy that carried a penalty of dismissal and eventually, you were dismissed from service.

Furthermore, you mentioned that you were given the opportunity to be heard by allowing you to explain your side and that a conference was conducted for you to air your explanation. You, however, failed to indicate in your narration the particular violation of the company policy you allegedly committed. The same may be one of the grounds mentioned in Article 282 of Labor Code that would validate your dismissal from service.

Even assuming that the ground relied upon by your employer is not one of the grounds provided in Article 282, your dismissal may be grounded on your violation of a company policy and it is a recognized principle that company policies and regulations are, unless shown to be grossly oppressive or contrary to law, generally binding and valid on the parties and must be complied with until finally revised or amended unilaterally or preferably through negotiation or by competent authority. (San Miguel Corporation vs. Reynaldo R. Ubaldo et. al., G.R. No. 92859, 1993 Feb 1)

In several cases, the Supreme Court ruled that, “To sanction disregard or disobedience by employees of a rule or order laid down by management, on the pleaded theory that the rule or order is unreasonable, illegal, or otherwise irregular for one reason or another, would be disastrous to the discipline and order that it is in the interest of both employer and his employees to preserve and maintain in the working establishment and without which no meaningful operation and progress is possible.

“Deliberate disregard or disobedience of rules, defiance of management authority cannot be countenanced. This is not to say that the employees have no remedy against rules or orders they regard as unjust or illegal. They may object thereto, ask to negotiate thereon, bring proceedings for redress against the employer before the Ministry of Labor. But until and unless the rules or orders are declared to be illegal or improper by competent authority, the employees ignore or disobey them at their peril.” (GTE Directories Corporation vs. Sanchez, 197 SCRA 452, 467-468)

Corollarily, an employee may be validly dismissed for violation of a reasonable company rule or regulation adopted for the conduct of the company business. An employer cannot rationally be expected to retain the employment of a person whose . . . lack of regard for his employer’s rules . . . has so plainly and completely been bared. (Philippine-Singapore Transport Services, Inc. vs. NLRC, G.R. No. 95449, August 18, 1997, citing Makati Haberdashery, Inc. vs. NLRC, 79 SCRA 448 (1989)

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