Burden of Proof in Illegal Dismissal Cases where the Employer Denies Termination

It is axiomatic that in illegal dismissal cases, the employer bears the burden of proving that the termination was for a valid or authorized cause. However, there are cases wherein the facts and the evidence do not establish prima facie that the employee was dismissed from employment.

Before the employer is obliged to prove that the dismissal was legal, the employee must first establish by substantial evidence the fact of his dismissal from service. If there is no dismissal, then there can be no question as to the legality or illegality thereof.

In a case where the employee alleged that when he failed to report for work on December 24, 2014, he was verbally terminated by the company. The employee claimed that company’s representative confirmed his termination. On the other hand, the company contended that the he just stopped reporting for work after he left his work on December 23, 2014.

The employee’s bare claim of having been dismissed from employment by the company, unsubstantiated by impartial and independent evidence, is insufficient to establish such fact of dismissal.

Bare and unsubstantiated allegations do not constitute substantial evidence and have no probative value. It must be emphasized that aside from the allegation that he was verbally terminated from his work, respondent failed to present any competent evidence showing that he was prevented from returning to his work.

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The alleged representative did not issue any statement to corroborate the claimed termination of the employee. That he was refused to be given his salary covering the period from December 15, 2014 to December 22, 2014 did not at all prove the fact of his termination.

The Supreme Court (SC) ruled that it must be taken into account that salaries of employees may not be released for myriad of reasons. Termination may only be one of them. The basic rule of evidence that each party must prove his affirmative allegation, that mere allegation is not evidence. The Court must also stress that the evidence presented to show the employee’s termination from employment must be clear, positive, and convincing.

Absent any showing of an overt or positive act proving that the company had dismissed the employee, the latter’s claim of illegal dismissal cannot be sustained — as the same would be self-serving, conjectural, and of no probative value. [See Atienza vs. Saluta, June 17, 2019, G.R. No. 233413]

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