Almirante: Employer-employee relationship

Labor Case Digest

PETITIONER Dr. Mary Jean Loreche-Amit started working with respondent Cagayan De Oro Medical Center Inc. (CDMC) sometime in May 1996 when she was engaged by the late Dr. Jose Gaerlan as associate pathologist in the Department of Laboratories. Upon the demise of Dr. Gaerlan, CDMC’s board of directors formally appointed her as chief pathologist for five years.

On June 13, 2007, CDMC’s board of directors passed a resolution recalling petitioner’s appointment as chief pathologist. Petitioner filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against CDMC.

In defense, respondents CDMC, Dr. Francisco Oh and Dr. Hernando Emano averred that petitioner was not hired by them as she merely assisted Dr. Gaerlan in operating the hospital’s laboratory. They maintained that petitioner worked at the same time as pathologist in Capitol College Hospital and J.R. Borja Memorial Hospital as she was not prohibited to do so.

Is there merit to this defense?

Ruling: Yes.

The power to control the work of the employee is considered the most significant determinant of the existence of an employer-employee relationship. This test is premised on whether the person for whom the services are performed reserves the right to control both the end achieved and the manner and means used to achieve that end.

As the labor arbiter, National Labor Relations Commission and the Court of Appeals aptly observed, petitioner was working for two other hospitals aside from CDMC, not to mention those other hospitals which she caters to when her services are needed. Such fact evinces that petitioner controls her working hours. On this note, relevant is the economic reality test which this Court has adopted in determining the existence of employer-employee relationship.

Under this test, the economic realities prevailing within the activity or between the parties are examined, taking into consideration the totality of circumstances surrounding the true nature of the relationship between the parties.

Thus, the fact that petitioner continued to work for other hospitals strengthens the proposition that petitioner was not wholly dependent on CDMC.

Petitioner likewise admitted that she receives in full her four percent share in the clinical section of the hospital regardless of the number of hours she worked therein. Alternatively put, petitioner manages her method and hours of work.

The rule is that where a person who works for another performs his job more or less at his own pleasure, in the manner he sees fit, not subject to definite hours or conditions of work, and is compensated according to the result of his efforts and not the amount thereof, no employer-employee relationship exists. (Dr. Mary Jean Loreche-Amit vs. Cagayan De Oro Medical Center Inc. (CDMC) et al., G.R. 216635, June 3, 2019).


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