PETITIONER Fernando C. Gososo (Gososo) was hired as a sales representative of respondent Leyte Lumber Yard and Hardware Inc. (Leyte Lumber). As a company policy, Leyte Lumber’s sales representatives were prohibited from getting items or stocks from the storage area by themselves. They were to course the orders through authorized checkers before the items were released. They were also prohibited from leaving their designated work areas without their superior’s consent.

On Oct. 6, 2008, Gososo was on his way to the stockroom to follow up on a customer’s urgent order when respondent Ruben L. Yu (Yu), Leyte Lumber’s general manager, stopped him. The next day, Yu saw Gososo step out of the store to check the availability of a ball caster having a customer’s specifications in the storage area. Yu required Gososo to submit a letter of apology which the latter complied with but which Yu refused to accept. Yu required Gososo to sign a prepared document, which the latter declined to do since the document contained admission of offenses that he did not commit. Irked by Gososo’s refusal, Yu allegedly informed him of his termination from work and even threw a pair of scissors at Gososo but missed. Aggrieved, Gososo filed a complaint for illegal constructive dismissal against respondents.

Does his complaint prosper?

Ruling: No.

In illegal dismissal cases, the employee must first establish by substantial evidence the fact of dismissal before the employer is charged with the burden of proving its legality.

Petitioner never proved that he was dismissed in the first place. He simply alleged that on Oct. 11, 2008, upon his refusal to sign a document prepared by respondent Yu, the latter “flared up with his usual hot temper and told the former that he is terminated from work on that very day,” and “even threw sharp scissors towards [him, which], almost hit by a narrow margin.” This barely measured up to the minimum evidential requirement from petitioner. Mere acts of hostility, however grave, committed by the employer towards the employee cannot on their lonesome be construed as an overt directive of dismissal from work.

Assuming that petitioner was truly dismissed from employment, he still failed to demonstrate that respondents did it constructively. Constructive dismissal has often been defined as a “dismissal in disguise” or “an act amounting to dismissal but made to appear as if it were not.” It exists where there is cessation of work because continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely, as an offer involving a demotion in rank and a diminution in pay. In some cases, while no demotion in rank or diminution in pay may be attendant, constructive dismissal may still exist when continued employment has become so unbearable because of acts of clear discrimination, insensibility or disdain by the employer, that the employee has no choice but to resign. Under these two definitions, what is essentially lacking is the voluntariness in the employee’s separation from employment. (Doctor v. Nii Enterprises (Doctor), 821 Phil. 251 (2017).

Petitioner insists that he was forced to sign a prepared incriminatory letter and then fired when he refused to do so. This statement does not fit the above legal definition provided in Doctor. No proof other than petitioner’s bare allegations supported this claim. It is settled that bare allegations deserve no legal credit for being self-serving.

Even if these accusations were adequately corroborated, respondent Yu’s rebuke of petitioner, while overbearing and intimidating, was reasonably incited by the latter’s violations of respondent Leyte Lumber’s company practices. It cannot be considered as tantamount to unequivocal acts of discrimination, insensibility, or disdain as to render petitioner’s continued employment as unbearable.

In fine, the Court finds no working basis to declare that petitioner had been dismissed, whether legally, illegally or constructively. (Fernando C. Gososo vs. Leyte Lumber Yard and Hardware Inc. and Ruben L. Yu, G.R. 205257, Jan. 13, 2021).