Almirante: NEGLECT OF DUTY

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By Dominador Almirante

Labor case Digest

Friday, February 7, 2014


ON May 15, 1998, the Foreign Currency Denomination Savings Account (FCD-S/A) 30570355-1 of Avelina Nomad-Spoor was credited with US$138.

This account was with the petitioner Philippine National Bank (PNB).

However, instead of posting the peso equivalent of P5,517.10, respondent Mary Sheila Arcobillas, the assigned administrative teller at PNB Bacolod-Lacson branch, erroneously posted US$5,517.10, resulting in an overcredit of US$5,379.10. That amount was later withdrawn by Nomad-Spoor on May 29, 1998 and June 8, 1998, to the damage of PNB in the amount of P214,641.23.

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On Feb. 24, 2000, PNB found Arcobillas guilty of gross neglect of duty and meted upon her the penalty of forced resignation with benefits, to take effect immediately upon her receipt thereof. When her plea for reconsideration was denied, Arcobillas instituted a complaint for illegal dismissal with money claims against PNB, its senior manager and senior vice-president. Did her complaint prosper?

The Supreme Court ruling: Yes.

Taking into consideration the circumstances attendant to Arcobillas’s infraction, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) correctly affirmed the Labor Arbiter’s finding that there was no sufficient basis to hold her guilty of gross and habitual neglect of duty, which would justify her termination from employment.

To warrant removal from service, the negligence should be gross and habitual. Although it was her second time to commit misposting (i.e., the first misposting was in 1995 while the second misposting was committed in 1998), Arcobillas’s act cannot be considered as gross as to warrant her termination from employment.

Gross neglect of duty “denotes a flagrant and culpable refusal or unwillingness of a person to perform a duty.” It “refers to negligence characterized by the want of even slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally, with a conscious indifference to consequences insofar as other persons may be affected.”

As aptly held by the labor tribunals, the misposting was not deliberately done as to constitute as gross negligence. Rather, it was a case of simple neglect brought about by carelessness which, as satisfactorily explained by Arcobillas, was the effect of her heavy workload that day and the headache she was experiencing. (Philippine National Bank vs. Mary Sheila Arcobillas, G.R. No. 179648, Aug. 7, 2013).

(Almirante is a former labor arbiter.)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 08, 2014.

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