Almirante: Constructive dismissal

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By Dominador Almirante

Labor case Digest

Friday, May 16, 2014


ON Aug. 1, 2008, respondent Atty. Leny O. Matorre was employed by petitioner HBV Law Firm as a senior associate attorney.

During a meeting between the respondent and petitioner Atty. Editha R. Hechanova on Aug. 19, 2008, respondent told Atty. Hechanova that since the latter was not satisfied with her work and because they were frequently arguing with each other, it would be best if she resigned from the firm.

Respondent requested that her resignation be made effective on Sept. 30, 2008. Atty. Hechanova accepted the resignation with the condition that it be made effective on Sept. 15, 2008. On Sept. 1, 2008, respondent received a letter from Atty. Hechanova conveying the latter’s acceptance of her oral resignation. On the same date, respondent filed a complaint for among others, constructive illegal dismissal. Did the complaint find merit?

Supreme Court (First Division) Ruling: No.

First, Atty. Matorre was not able to present a single witness to corroborate her claims of verbal abuse and insults from Atty. Hechanova. She was only able to adduce transcriptions of what she claims were conversations between her and Atty. Hechanova, and nothing more. These are indeed self-serving and uncorroborated and should not be given evidentiary weight. On the other hand, the body of evidence presented by HBV Law Firm would show affidavits demonstrating that the other personnel in the said law firm neither heard nor saw any inappropriate behavior on the part of Atty. Hechanova towards Atty. Matorre.

Second, the act of HBV Law Firm of moving the effectivity date of Atty. Matorre’s resignation from Sept. 30, 2008 to Sept. 15, 2008 is not an act of harassment, as Atty. Matorre would have us believe. The 30- day notice requirement for an employee’s resignation is actually for the benefit of the employer who has the discretion to waive such period. Its purpose is to afford the employer enough time to hire another employee if needed and to see to it that there is proper turn-over of the tasks which the resigning employee may be handling. x x x

Third, the fact that HBV Law Firm was no longer assigning new work to Atty. Matorre after her resignation is not an act of harassment, but an exercise of management prerogative. (Hechanova Bugay Vilchez Lawyers, Hechanova & Co., Inc., Atty. Editha R. Hechanova vs. Atty. Leny O Matorre, G.R. No. 198261, Oct. 16, 2013).

(Almirante is a former labor arbiter)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 17, 2014.

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