Almirante: Quitcliam

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By Dominador Almirante

Labor case Digest

Friday, August 22, 2014


RESPONDENTS Ignacio B. Tagyamon, Pablito L. Luna, Fe B. Badayos, and Cynthia L. Comandao were supervisors of petitioner Philippine Carpet Manufacturing Corp. (PCMC).

Last March 15, 2004, they received a memorandum of dismissal from the petitioner. They were informed that the petitioner was implementing a retrenchment program in accordance with Article 283 of the Labor Code. They were paid their separation pay and executed deeds of release, waiver and quitclaim.

Claiming that they were aggrieved by petitioner’s decision to terminate their employment, the respondents filed separate complaints against the petitioner for illegal dismissal. They insisted that their acceptance of separation pay and signing of quitclaim is not a bar to the pursuit of illegal dismissal case. Can their case prosper?

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The Supreme Court (Third Division) ruling: Yes.

It can safely be concluded that economic necessity constrained the respondents to accept the petitioners’ monetary offer and sign the deeds of release, waiver and quitclaim. That respondents are supervisors and not rank-and-file employees does not make them less susceptible to financial offers, faced as they were with the prospect of unemployment. The Court has allowed supervisory employees to seek payment of benefits and a manager to sue for illegal dismissal even though, for a consideration, they executed deeds of quitclaims releasing their employers from liability (Ariola v. Philex Mining Corp., 503 Phil. 765, 780 (2005) at 789).

x x x There is no nexus between intelligence, or even the position which the employee held in the company when it concerns the pressure which the employer may exert upon the free will of the employee who is asked to sign a release and quitclaim. A lowly employee or a sales manager, as in the present case, who is confronted with the same dilemma of whether (to sign) a release and quitclaim and accept what the company offers them, or (to refuse) to sign and walk out without receiving anything, may succumb to the same pressure, being very well aware that it is going to take quite a while before he can recover whatever he is entitled to, because it is only after a protracted legal battle starting from the labor arbiter level, all the way to this Court, can he receive anything at all. The Court understands that such a risk of not receiving anything whatsoever, coupled with the probability of not immediately getting any gainful employment or means of livelihood in the meantime, constitutes enough pressure upon anyone who is asked to sign a release and quitclaim in exchange of some amount of money which may be way below what he may be entitled to based on company practice and policy or by law (Philippine Carpet Manufacturing Corp., et. al. vs. Ignacio B. Tagyamon, et. al., G.R. No. 191475, Dec. 11, 2013, quoting Becton Dickinson Phils., Inc. v. NLRC, 511 Phil. 566, 589-590 (2005)).

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 23, 2014.

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