CEBU

Almirante: Redundancy

Labor Case Digest

RESPONDENT Concentrix Daksh Services Philippines Inc. hired petitioner Enrique Marco G. Yulo on March 26, 2014 as a customer care specialist for operations assigned to the account of Amazon.com Inc.

On Feb. 17, 2015, petitioner received a letter from respondent informing him that Amazon intended to “right size the headcount of the account due to business exigencies/requirements.” Contrary to the assurance of respondent, he was not reassigned to other accounts and consequently, was terminated from the service on the ground of redundancy.

Petitioner filed a complaint against respondent for constructive illegal dismissal with money claims, damages and attorney’s fees. Both the Labor Arbiter (LA) and the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) found that respondent failed to comply with all the requisites for a valid redundancy program, which rendered petitioner’s dismissal illegal. The Court of Appeals (CA) set aside the ruling of the NLRC and ruled that petitioner’s dismissal was legal.

Did the CA err?

Ruling: Yes.

In this case, the Court upholds the findings of the labor tribunals that respondent was not able to present adequate proof to show that it exhibited good faith, as well as employed fair and reasonable criteria in terminating petitioner’s employment based on redundancy.

Particularly, respondent attempted to justify its purported redundancy program by claiming that on Dec. 18, 2014, it received an e-mail from Amazon informing it of the latter’s plans to “right size the headcount of the account due to business exigencies/requirements.”

However, such e-mail—much less, any sufficient corroborative evidence tending to substantiate its contents—was never presented in the proceedings a quo.

At most, respondent submitted, in its motion for reconsideration before the NLRC, an internal document, which supposedly explained Amazon’s redundancy plans.

However, the Court finds that this one-page document hardly demonstrates respondent’s good faith, not only because it lacks adequate data to justify a declaration of redundancy, but more so, because it is clearly self-serving since it was prepared by one Vivek Tiku, the requestor or business unit head of respondent, and not by any employee or representative coming from Amazon itself.

Notably, parallel to the entry “Narrative of the current situation of the business unit, what triggered the downsizing, and what is the preferred outcome,” the requestor merely stated that “we have just finished our seasonal ramp and would need to decrease our headcount due to low call volume based on the long-term forecast by the client (Dec-Feb EOM L TF).”

Outside of this general conclusion, no evidence was presented to substantiate the alleged low call volume and the forecast from which it is based on so as to truly exhibit the business exigency of downsizing the business unit assigned to Amazon.

Aside from the lack of evidence to show respondent’s good faith, respondent likewise failed to prove that it employed fair and reasonable criteria in its redundancy program. Respondent merely presented a screenshot of a table with names of the employees it sought to redundate based on their alleged poor performance ratings. Indeed, while “efficiency” may be a proper standard to determine who should be terminated pursuant to a program of redundancy, said document does not convincingly show that fair and reasonable criteria was indeed employed by respondent. To reiterate, all that the screenshot contains is a list of employees with their concomitant performance ratings. x x x

Finally, it may not be amiss to point out that while respondent had duly notified petitioner that it was terminating him on the ground of redundancy, records are bereft of any showing that he was paid his separation pay, which is also a requisite to properly terminate an employee based on this ground. As Article 298 states, “in case of termination due to x x x redundancy, the worker affected thereby shall be entitled to a separation pay equivalent to at least his one (1) month pay or to at least one (1) month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher.” (Enrique Marco G. Yulo vs. Concentrix Daksh Services Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 235873, January 21, 2019).


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