ON NOV. 1, 2009, respondent Matiere SAS executed a consulting agreement with petitioner Manuel Acosta wherein the latter was engaged as a technical consultant for 12 months with a monthly salary of P70,000. Upon the expiration of their agreement, respondent engaged Acosta as its technical assistant with the same monthly salary under an employment agreement dated Nov, 1, 2010.
On June 27, 2013, respondent sent Acosta a letter informing him that his employment contract will end on July 31, 2013. The decision was due to the cessation of delivery operations and diminution of activities. In respondent’s report to the Department of Labor and Employment, it stated that its last shipment had been delivered and Acosta, who was dismissed together with four other workers, was primarily in charge of the monitoring of shipments. It cited redundancy as a ground for their dismissal.
Can the dismissal be justified?
However, as to the third and fourth requisites, this Court held that “to establish good faith, the company must provide substantial proof that the services of the employees are in excess of what is required of the company, and that fair and reasonable criteria were used to determine the redundant positions.” Here, respondents’ only basis for declaring petitioner’s position redundant was that his function, which was to monitor the delivery of supplies, became unnecessary upon completion of the shipments. However, upon careful scrutiny, this Court finds that the employment agreement itself contradicts respondents’ allegation.
Under Schedule “A,” petitioner’s job description listed his tasks as a technical assistant:
1. Prepare reports regarding Woodfields Consultants Inc. (WCI) consultants.
2. Be the intermediary between the CAD operators in WCI and the management in the office.
3. Attend coordination meetings with consultant.
4. Evaluate billings.
5. Follow the SIT and prepare reports.
6. Prepare various reports as required by the resident manager.
7. Site visits.
There was no mention of monitoring shipments as part of petitioner’s tasks. If his work pertains mainly to the delivery of supplies, it should have been specifically stated in his job description. Respondents did not even present any evidence to support their claim or to contradict petitioner’s documentary evidence. There was, hence, no basis for respondents to consider his position irrelevant when the shipments had been completed.
Likewise, respondents failed to show that they used fair and reasonable criteria in determining what positions should be declared redundant.
In Panlilio v. National Labor Relations Commission, 346 Phil. 30 (1997), this Court held that fair and reasonable criteria may take into account the preferred status, efficiency and seniority of employees to be dismissed due to redundancy. Yet, respondents never showed that they used any of these in choosing petitioner as among the employees affected by redundancy.
Although he was among the five employees dismissed, petitioner cannot be similarly situated with the other employees. Roselim was a forklift operator while Richard, Wilson and Menor were helpers assigned to field engineers. The four employees work directly with the delivery of supplies.
On the other hand, as already discussed, petitioner’s duty is not limited to the monitoring of deliveries.
Accordingly, this Court declares petitioner to have been illegally dismissed. (Manuel G. Acosta vs. Matiere SAS and Philippe Gouvary, G.R. 232870, June 3, 2019).