CEBU

Almirante: Employer-employee relationship

Labor case digest

PETITIONER Arnulfo Fernandez filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and money claims against respondents Kalookan Slaughterhouse Inc. / Ernesto Cunanan. He alleged that he was hired in 1994 as a butcher by respondents. He worked from Monday to Sunday from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. with a daily wage of P700 which was later reduced to P500. On July 22, 2014, he was informed that he could no longer report for work due to his old age.

Kalookan Slaughterhouse, on the other hand, asserted that petitioner is an independent butcher working under its operation supervisor, Cirilo Tablit (Tablit). He received payment based on the number of hogs he butchered and was only required to be in the slaughterhouse when customers brought hogs to be slaughtered.

The Labor Arbiter (LA) found that petitioner is a regular employee of Kalookan Slaughterhouse. The National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) reversed the LA decision. The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the NLRC decision.

Did the CA commit a reversible error?

Ruling: Yes.

The Court finds that the NLRC and the CA committed a grave error and agrees with the LA.

Here, the totality of petitioner’s evidence and the admissions of Kalookan Slaughterhouse convinces the Court that petitioner was indeed an employee of Kalookan Slaughterhouse. Petitioner was able to present an ID, gate passes, log sheets and a trip ticket. Kalookan Slaughterhouse even admitted through its personnel Noelberto de Guzman that uniforms were given to all personnel, including petitioner.

Further, by denying that petitioner was its employee but alleging that he rendered services as Tablit’s employee, Kalookan Slaughterhouse effectively admitted the substantial fact that petitioner has been rendering butchering services for 20 years from the filing of the complaint on Aug. 5, 2014.

Even worse for Kalookan Slaughterhouse, while Tablit claimed to be petitioner’s employer, he also admitted that he did not exercise any control over the means and methods of petitioner in rendering butchering services. If he was indeed petitioner’s employer, he should have control over petitioner’s means and methods for doing his job.

It, however, appears on record that de Guzman, who is also an employee of Kalookan Slaughterhouse, was the one who exercised control over petitioner’s means and methods as he reprimanded petitioner for his failure to properly store his butchering knives, coming to Kalookan Slaughterhouse with dirty clothes, reporting for work drunk and not having an ID before going to the slaughterhouse.

All the foregoing show that Kalookan Slaughterhouse, through Tablit, was the one who engaged petitioner, paid for his salaries and in effect had the power to dismiss him. Further, Kalookan Slaughterhouse exercised control over petitioner’s conduct through de Guzman. To the mind of the Court, Kalookan Slaughterhouse was petitioner’s employer and it exercised its rights as an employer through Tablit and de Guzman who were its employees. (Arnulfo Fernandez vs. Kalookan Slaughterhouse Inc. / Ernesto Cunanan, G.R. 225075, June 19, 2019).


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