Brown vs. Marswin Marketing, Inc. and Sany Tan
G.R. No. 206981, March 15, 2017


Marswin employed Brown as electrician; during his eight-month stay, Marswin received negative reports anent Brown’s work ethics, competence, and efficiency.

They summoned him at its Main Office to purportedly discuss the complaints of the warehouse Manager and the Warehouse Supervisor; during the meeting they informed Brown of the charges against him.

Marswin stated that during the meeting, Brown excused himself purportedly to get in touch with his wife; however, he never returned and no longer reported for work.

LA Ruling:

On June 30, 2011, the LA rendered a Decision declaring Brown’s dismissal illegal.

The LA held that Brown was a regular employee of Marswin because Marswin/Tan confirmed hiring him on October 4, 2009; they paid him salary; they had the power to control his conduct, especially on how he should do his work; and, they had the power to dismiss him.

In ruing that Brown was illegally dismissed, the LA noted that the alleged complaints against Brown were embodied in Azucena’s affidavit yet no actual complaints or reports against him were adduced in evidence. The LA was also unconvinced that Brown left Marswin ‘s premises and abandoned his work considering that he filed this illegal dismissal case; and his employer failed to notify him to report back to work.

NLRC Ruling:

The NLRC, through its Resolution dated December 19, 2011, affirmed the LA Decision.

The NLRC also declared that there was no showing that Brown abandoned his work as Marswin did not cite him for his alleged refusal to return to work. On Januaiy 31, 2012, the NLRC denied the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Marswin.

Undaunted, Marswin/Tan filed a Petition for Certiorari with the CA arguing that the NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in affirming the LA Decision.

CA Ruling:

The CA annulled and set aside the NLRC Resolutions. It entered a new judgment declaring that Brown was legally dismissed and therefore not entitled to backwages.

According to the CA, aside from his allegation that he was unceremoniously terminated, Brown presented no evidence supporting such claim. It also held that there was no showing that Brown was prevented from returning or was deprived of work.

It likewise gave weight to the affidavit of Azucena, which asserted that during the May 28, 2010 meeting, Brown was not dismissed but was only informed of the complaints against him. In sum, the CA decreed that this case did not involve the dismissal of an employee on the ground of abandonment, there being no evidence proving that Brown was actually dismissed.


Whether or not there was abandonment in this case

SC Ruling:

In order for the employer to discharge its burden to prove that the employee committed abandonment, which constitutes neglect of duty, and is a just cause for dismissal, the employer must prove that the employee 1) failed to report for work or had been absent without valid reason; and 2) had a dear intention to discontinue his or her employment.

The second requirement must be manifested by overt ads and is more determinative in concluding that the employee is guilty of abandonment. This is because abandonment is a matter of intention and cannot be lightly presumed from indefinite acts.

Here, Brown contends that on May 28, 2010, his employer informed him that it was already his last day of work; and, thereafter, he was no longer admitted back to work. On the other hand, Marswin/Tan confirmed having summoned Brown on such date but they denied that he was dismissed, but that he left the meeting and since then never returned for work.

Nonetheless, apart from the allegation of abandonment, Marswin/Tan presented no evidence proving that Brown failed to return without justifiable reasons and had clear intentions to discontinue his work.

In addition, on June 7, 2010, or just ten days after Brown’s last day at work (May 28, 2010), he already filed an illegal dismissal suit against his employer. Such filing conveys his desire to return, and strengthens his assertion that he did not abandon his work. To add, in his Complaint, Brown prayed for reinstatement, which further bolsters his intention to continue working for Marswin, and negates abandonment.

Indeed, the immediate filing of an illegal dismissal case especially so when it includes a prayer for reinstatement is totally contrary to the charge of abandonment.

Learn How to Dismiss Employee for Abandonment of Work in HR Forms, Notices & Contracts


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