Almirante: Constructive dismissal

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By Dominador Almirante

Labor case Digest

Friday, May 9, 2014


ON AUG. 9, 2002, petitioner Candido S. Gemina Jr. signed an employment contract with respondent Bankwise, Inc. as marketing officer with the rank of senior manager.

Feeling that the acts of harassment by respondent and its officers became intolerable, he filed on Feb. 19, 2003 a complaint for constructive dismissal against the respondent. He claimed that their acts of harassment were by way of (1) asking him to take a forced leave of absence, (2) demanding for the return of his service vehicle, and (3) delaying the release of his salaries and allowances in order to compel him to quit employment. Did his complaint prosper?

Supreme Court (First Division) ruling: No.

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In the instant case, the records are bereft of substantial evidence that will unmistakably establish a case of constructive dismissal. An act, to be considered as amounting to constructive dismissal, must be a display of utter discrimination or insensibility on the part of the employer so intense that it becomes unbearable for the employee to continue with his employment. Here, the circumstances relayed by Gemina were not clear-cut indications of bad faith or some malicious design on the part of Bankwise to make his working environment insufferable.

Moreover, Bankwise was able to address the allegations of harassment hurled against its officers and offered a plausible justification for its actions. It explained that the delay in the release of Gemina’s salary was not intentional. It pointed out that Gemina went on leave for 11 days from Jan. 17 to 31, 2003 and reported back to work only in February. Considering that he had only worked the company for less than six months, the personnel department needed some time to compute his salary, taking into account his accrued leave credits and assessing if the same is enough to cover the number of days he went on leave. After determining that Gemina’s leave of absence can be charged to his accrued leave credits, his salary was immediately credited to his account.

As regards the delay in the release of his salary for Feb. 1 to 15, 2003, it was shown that Gemina incurred absences without leave within the said payroll period and failed to submit his attendance record. The procedure for monitoring the attendance of employees on field work, like Gemina, requires the accomplishment of an attendance form, duly signed by the certifying officer and noted by their immediate supervisors. However, Gemina failed to submit his attendance report promptly, hence, the delay in the release of his salary.

The Court also finds Bankwise’s order to return the service vehicle assigned to Gemina inadequate to warrant his claim of constructive dismissal. It bears noting that the service vehicle was only temporarily assigned for Gemina’s use. Nonetheless, it remains the property of the Bank and therefore may be disposed of or used by the company in the manner that it deems more beneficial for its interests. This is plainly an exercise of management prerogative.

The employer’s right to conduct the affairs of its business, according to its own discretion and judgment, is well-recognized. An employer has a free rein and enjoys wide latitude of discretion to regulate all aspects of employment and the only criterion to guide the exercise of its management prerogative is that the policies, rules and regulations on work-related activities of the employees must always be fair and reasonable (Candido S. Gemina Jr. vs. Bankwise Inc. (Trift Bank), et. al., G.R. No. 175365, Oct. 23, 2013).

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 10, 2014.

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