Quantum of Proof in Illegal Dismissal Cases

It is a well-established rule that the party who alleges the existence of a fact or thing necessary to establish a claim has the burden of proving the same by the amount of evidence required by law, which, in labor proceedings, is substantial evidence, or “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”

According to the Supreme Court (SC) in the case of JR Hauling Services vs. Solamo (G.R. No. 214294, September 30, 2020), in the hierarchy of evidentiary values, “proof beyond reasonable doubt is placed at the highest level, followed by clear and convincing evidence, preponderance of evidence, and substantial evidence, in that order.”

Thus, in the hierarchy of evidence, it is the least demanding. “Corollarily, the ground for the dismissal of an employee does not require proof beyond reasonable doubt.”

The quantum of proof required is merely substantial evidence – which only entails evidence to support a conclusion, “even if other minds, equally reasonable, might conceivably opine otherwise.”

Accordingly, requiring a quantum of proof that is over and above substantial evidence is contrary to law.

In Manila Electric Company vs National Labor Relations Commission (275 Phil. 746 (1991)), the SC held that the ground for an employer’s dismissal of an employee need be established only by substantial evidence, it not being required that the former’s evidence be of such degree as is required in criminal cases, i.e., proof beyond reasonable doubt.

Will the fact that the charge against an employee constitutes criminal offense change the standard of proof? The SC does not think so. It held in the above Meralco case that it is absolutely of no consequence that the misconduct with which an employee may be charged also constitutes a criminal

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offense: theft, embezzlement, assault on another employee or company officer, arson, malicious mischief, etc.

The proceedings being administrative, the quantum of proof is governed by the substantial evidence rule and not by the rule governing judgments in criminal actions.

In sum, employers litigating the case before the NLRC have to produce at least substantial evidence to prove the validity of employee dismissal. Otherwise, the dismissal may be held as illegal.

However, it does not mean that while the employer has the burden of proof, it is required to present at the level of proof beyond reasonable doubt.

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