Constructive dismissal is defined as a “cessation of work because continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely.” Similarly, there is constructive dismissal “when an act of clear discrimination, insensibility or disdain by an employer has become so unbearable to the employee leaving him with no option but to forego with his continued employment.”
Thus, the SC held in the October 18, 2017 case as follows:
Labor Code 2018 Edition is now available online and National Book Store Branches
Petitioner Meatworld International, Inc., a corporation engaged in the business of selling fresh meat under the brand name of “Mrs. Garcia’s Meats” in different outlets located in different malls or markets, hired Respondent Dominique A. Hechanova as a head butcher.
On March 2, 2011, Hechanova filed a Complaint for Illegal Dismissal with claim for reinstatement and backwages against Meatworld and/or Joyce Alcoreza (Alcoreza), Vice-President of Meatworld.
Hechanova alleged that on November 10-19, 2010, he was suspended for violating the regulation of SM Hypermarket, Muntinlupa, prohibiting employees of concessionaires from tasting food peddled by some promodizers. After his suspension, he reported to the office of Meatworld for his reassignment but he was informed by the Employee Relation Supervisor Junel Romadia (Romadia), that there was no available outlet yet.
Subsequently, Hechanova was assigned at Robinsons Place Manila. Thereafter, he was relieved from his assignment and was told to report to the office on January 6, 2011 for his performance evaluation. When he reported to the office on said date, he was told to come back on January 10, 2011.
On January 10, 2011, Romadia asked him to leave his cellphone number so she could text him when to come back. On January 12, 2011, Hechanova via text message asked Romadia when he could report for work. Romadia replied that he could report for work anytime.
On January 13, 2011, Hechanova reported to the office at around 1 PM but was scolded by Alcoreza for not arriving in the morning. Hechanova explained to Alcoreza that he came in the afternoon because he knew the office personnel were very busy in the morning. Alcoreza allegedly retorted, “Magresign ka, na lang or tanggalin ka, naming.” Hechanova pleaded to her but she left without saying a word.
Romadia approached him and told him to wait for her text. On January 17, 2011, he decided to ask the help of Mr. Raffy Tulfo (Tulfo) since he had not received any text message from Meatworld. Tulfo gave him a referral letter to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) –CAMANAVA.
The same day, he went to the DOLE-CAMANAVA and filled-out a Single-Entry Approach (SENA) form for illegal constructive dismissal alleging that he was not given any work assignment and was being forced to resign. The case was forwarded to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
In response, Meatworld claimed that it did not dismiss Hechanova as he was the one who failed to report for work. Meatworld alleged that in April 2010, Hechanova was banned from working at all Puregold outlets because a personnel of Puregold BF caught him urinating in the storage room where fresh food items were kept.
Hechanova was suspended from November 18-25, 2010 for leaving his workplace without permission on November 5, 2010 and for being under time for the dates October 31 and November 1, 2010.
Hechanova was placed on preventive suspension on November 27-30, 2010 for eating food products or sample items of another concessionaire in the cold room storage area. Hechanova was banned from working at the SM Hypermarket Muntinlupa branch because of the incident. Hechanova was temporarily assigned at that Robinsons Place Manila. His assignment ended on January 5, 2011. He was told to report to the office on January 6, 2011 for his new assignment but since he arrived late he was told by his supervisor to return the following day as there was a long queue at the Human Resources (HR) Department.
Since Hechanova failed to report on January 6, 2011, the vacancy which he was supposed to fill was no longer available. On January 10, 2011, Hechanova barged in at the HR Department and made a demand for his new assignment. He was told to return in the morning of January 13, 2011. On said date, he arrived late giving Romadia the impression that he was no longer interested to work. On the same day, he received a Memorandum asking him to explain in writing why no disciplinary action should be taken against him for failing to report to the HR Department as scheduled.
After the said date, he never reported back to work and that on January 18, 2011, Meatworld sent a Memorandum asking him to submit a written explanation and to report to the HR Department.
The Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision declaring Hechanova to have been illegally dismissed.
The Labor Arbiter gave no credence to Meatworld’s theory, that Hechanova failed to return to work for fear of being investigated for his violations of company rules and regulations, for lack of evidence.
The Labor Arbiter also found Meatworld’s accusations against Hechanova to be untrue and without basis. However, considering that the work environment would no longer be healthy, the Labor Arbiter ordered the payment of separation pay in lieu of reinstatement.
In the absence of any factual or legal basis, the Labor Arbiter relieved Alcoreza of any liability.
Meatworld appealed the case to the NLRC.
The NLRC rendered a Decision, affirming the findings of the Labor Arbiter that Hechanova was illegally dismissed and thus entitled to backwages and separation pay.
The NLRC ruled that Meatworld’s allegation that it was Hechanova who refused to report for work was belied by the latter’s “immediate action to seek help from Raffy Tulfo.” As to the alleged infraction of Hechanova of urinating in the storage room, the NLRC considered it as a fabricated infraction as no document was presented to support this.
The NLRC even considered the two previous suspensions of Hechanova as proof that Meatworld was giving Hechanova a hard time. It also gave credence to the statement of Hechanova that he was told to resign by Alcoreza.
All these taken together led the NLRC to conclude that Hechanova was illegally dismissed.
Meatworld moved for reconsideration but the· NLRC denied the same. Unfazed, Meatworld elevated the matter to the CA via a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
On September 12, 2012, the CA dismissed the Petition due to certain technicalities.
Meatworld sought reconsideration contending that it complied with the proof of service requirement and that the Secretary’s Certificate attached to the Petition is sufficient proof of the authority of Alcoreza to file the said Petition. The CA conceded that Meatworld complied with the proof of service requirement, however, it maintained that Meatworld failed to present the Board Resolution and the competent evidence of identity of the affiant.
Hence, Meatworld filed the Petition for Review on Certiorari before the SC.
Whether or not in petition for certiorari by a corporation it is necessary to attach the Board Resolution authorizing the individual to file the petition otherwise, it shall be dismissible
Whether or not failure to assign the employee, who reported to work after serving a suspension, to a specific branch without any justifiable reason constituted illegal constructive dismissal
The SC did not find merit in the petition.
The SC held that under the Corporation Code, a corporation exercises its powers and transacts its business through its board of directors or trustees. Its corporate officers and agents, therefore, cannot exercise any corporate power pertaining to the corporation without authority from the board of directors.
Corollarily, in order for a person to represent a corporation in a suit, a board resolution authorizing the former to represent the latter is necessary. In several instances, however, a Secretary’s Certificate was considered sufficient proof of authority for a person named in it to represent a corporation in a suit.
In this case, no board resolution was attached to the Petition for Certiorari. However, in lieu thereof, Meatworld attached a Secretary’s Certificate attesting that Alcoreza was duly authorized by the Board of Directors to sign the necessary pleadings, verification, and certificate of non-forum shopping on behalf of the corporation. This, under prevailing jurisprudence, is sufficient proof of authority.
In illegal dismissal cases, the employer bears the burden of proving that the employee’s termination was for a valid or authorized cause. This rule, however, presupposes that the employee was dismissed from service.
The Court found that although there was no actual dismissal, the failure of Meatworld to assign Hechanova to a specific branch without any justifiable reason constituted illegal constructive dismissal.
Constructive dismissal is defined as a “cessation of work because continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely.” Similarly, there is constructive dismissal “when an act of clear discrimination, insensibility or disdain by an employer has become so unbearable to the employee leaving him with no option but to forego with his continued employment.” Simply put, it is a “dismissal in disguise or an act amounting to dismissal but made to appear as if it were not.
In this case, Meatworld admits that after relieving Hechanova from his assignment at Robinsons Place Manila, it failed to assign him to a new branch. However, to justify its failure, Meatworld claims that there was no available post as the vacancy which Hechanova was supposed to fill was no longer available since he failed to report on January 6, 2011.
Meatworld later clarified that Hechanova did report to the office on January 6, 2011 but that he arrived late, and thus was not given the assignment. Meatworld also claims it was having a hard time finding a new branch as Hechanova was already banned at SM Hypermarket Muntinlupa, Market Market, and all Puregold supermarkets. The Court found Meatworld’s justification unacceptable.
It was incumbent upon Meatworld to prove that Hechanova was banned at SM Hypermarket Muntinlupa, Market Market, and all Puregold supermarkets, and that there was no available branch for Hechanova. Unfortunately, Meatworld failed to prove both. Except for a Memorandum from SM Hypermarket stating that Hechanova was no longer allowed to be assigned at the Muntinlupa branch, no other evidence was presented by Meatworld to show that Hechanova was also banned at Market Market and at all Puregold supermarkets and that all posts were indeed taken.
Meatworld could have easily asked its HR Department for a list of all its branches together with the list of all its employees assigned thereat to prove its allegation that there are no available posts for Hechanova. But it did not. Instead, it argued that Hechanova’s various infractions made it difficult for Meatworld to assign Hechanova to a new assignment. As evidence, Meatworld submitted several memoranda it issued against Hechanova.
These, however, do not prove Meatworld’s allegation that there are no available posts for Hechanova. If at all, it only shows that Meatworld considered Hechanova an undesirable employee due to his various infractions. Such infractions, however, are not sufficient to prove that there are no available posts for Hechanova.
While the Court recognizes that the management has the discretion and prerogative to regulate all aspects of employment, which includes the transfer of employees, work assignments, discipline, dismissal and recall of workers, the exercise of power is not absolute as “it must be exercised in good faith and with due regard to the rights oflabor.” More important, “management prerogative may not be used as a subterfuge by the employer to rid himself of an undesirable worker.