LABOR LAW

CERTIFICATION ELECTION; The date of the submission of the required documents to the appropriate office, as provided for by applicable laws and regulations, retroacts to the date of the filing of the petition for certification election.

FACTS: The respondent corporation, Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corporation (PASAR), and the petitioner, PASAR Employees Association-ALU (PEA-ALU), inked a collective bargaining agreement on November 21, 1990. Before the expiration of their five year agreement, private respondent, National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU), filed a petition for certification election which was granted by the Department of Labor and Employment. PEA-ALU, however, filed a motion to dismiss the petition on the ground that NAFLU failed to acquire for and in behalf of its local chapter affiliate, Concerned Organization of PASAR Progressive Employees for Reform (COPPER), a legal personality as a legitimate labor organization. It appeared that COPPER did not have a legal personality at the time when the petition for certification election was filed on November 17, 1995. COPPER was issued by DOLE a Certificate of Registration as an independent registered labor organization only on December 7, 1995. The motion to dismiss was granted but the same was set aside by respondent Secretary of Labor.

ISSUE: Whether or not COPPER has a legal personality at the time of filing of NAFLU's petition for certification election.

HELD: The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative. When COPPER submitted on December 1, 1995 to DOLE all the documents required for the registration of a legitimate labor organization, and the registration was found meritorious on December 7, 1995 with the issuance of its Certificate of Registration, it thereby attained the status of a legitimate labor organization, as of November 17, 1995, when the petition for certification election was filed by NAFLU. By fiction of law, COPPER was already a duly registered labor organization when the petition for certification election was filed. The fact that petitioner federation's local union attains the status of a legitimate labor organization only after the 60 days freedom period cannot be used as a basis for the dismissal of the petition. The date of the submission by the petitioner of the required documents to the appropriate office retroacts to the date of the filing of the petition and it cured whatever defects the petition was initially tainted with. [PEA-ALU vs. Secretary Quisumbing; G.R. No. 128192; April 14, 1999; Third Division--- Purisima, J.]

LEGALITY OF TRANSFER; This Court has recognized and upheld the prerogative of management to transfer an employee from one office to another within the business establishment, provided that there is no demotion in rank or a diminution of his salary, benefits and other privileges. This is a privilege inherent in the employer's right to control and manage its enterprise effectively.

FACTS: Private respondent Rodriguez was continuously employed by petitioner Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel in various capacities from July 1, 1977 until his dismissal on February 16, 1993. Prior to his dismissal, private respondent received a memorandum from the management transferring him from his position as doorman to linen room attendant . The transfer was allegedly taken because of the negative feedback on the manner of providing service to hotel guests by private respondent. However, instead of accepting his new assignment, private respondent went on an extended vacation leave and when he reported back to work, he still did not assume his post at the linen room. Worse, while he came to the hotel everyday, he just went to the union office. Subsequently, petitioner terminated private respondent's employment on the ground of insubordination. Feeling aggrieved, private respondent filed a complaint for illegal dismissal. The Labor Arbiter ruled that the dismissal was legal, but this was reversed by the public respondent NLRC. The latter observed that private respondent was demoted because the position of doorman is "more glamorous" than that of a linen room attendant. It held that the transfer was punitive in character.

ISSUE: Whether or not the order of transfer was legal.

HELD: The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative. It must be emphasized that this Court has recognized and upheld the prerogative of management to transfer an employee from one office to another within the business establishment, provided that there is no demotion in rank or a diminution of his salary, benefits and other privileges. This is a privilege inherent in the employer's right to control and manage its enterprise effectively. In the case at bar, petitioner is justified in assigning private respondent to the linen room. First, petitioner's right to transfer is expressly recognized in the collective bargaining agreement between the hotel management and the employees union. Second, the transfer order was issued in the exercise of petitioner's management prerogative in view of the several negative reports vis--vis the performance of private respondent as doorman. Third, it was a lateral movement as the positions of doorman and linen room attendant are equivalent in rank and compensation. [Western Philippine Plaza Hotel vs. NLRC; G.R. No. 121621; May 03, 1999; Second Division--- Quisumbing, J.]

TRANSFER OF POSITION; A transfer involving only a change in location of the office is valid. Even a transfer in position is valid when based on sound judgement, unattended by demotion in rank or diminution of pay or bad faith.

FACTS: Respondent Angeline Balani was an employee of petitioner Admiral Hotel for fifteen years. On June 21, 1991, petitioner issued a memorandum affording the respondent an opportunity to explain why a disciplinary action should not be taken against her for a series of violations of hotel rules which she allegedly committed. Respondent replied, denying the charges leveled against her. On June 25, 1991, respondent resigned from her job, and after receiving her separation benefits, she executed a release and quitclaim in favor of petitioner. However, on August 13, 1991, respondent filed with the labor arbiter a complaint against petitioner for forced resignation/harassment. Respondent claimed that she was constructively dismissed from her office as its location was transferred from under the steps of the stairs to the kitchen. Such transfer caused her mental torture which forced her to resign. The labor arbiter ruled that the complainant was not forced to resign but on appeal to the National Labor Relations Commission, the same was reversed. Hence, this petition for certiorari.

ISSUE: Whether or not NLRC acted with grave abuse of discretion in holding that respondent was harassed and/or forced to resign.

HELD: The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative. The Court is convinced that this is a case of voluntary resignation. It was not shown that respondent's transfer was prompted by ill will of management. Indeed, the resident manager of the hotel swore that the transfer affected not only respondent's office but also other offices. The transfer involved only a change in location of the office. It does not involve a change in respondent's position. But even a transfer in position is valid when based on sound judgement, unattended by demotion in rank or diminution of pay or bad faith. With respect to the memorandum sent to her, it was held that the same was not unreasonable nor an act of harassment that left respondent with no choice but to resign. There is no showing that respondent was coerced into resigning from the company. On the contrary, respondent resigned without any element of coercion attending her option. She voluntarily resigned from employment and signed the quitclaim and waiver after receiving all the benefits for her separation. To allow respondent to repudiate the same will be to countenance unjust enrichment on her part. [Admiral Realty Company, Inc. vs. NLRC; G.R. No. 112043; May 18, 1999; First Division--- Pardo, J.]

NOTICE OF STRIKE; A notice of strike should be dismissed if there is failure to exhaust all the steps in the grievance machinery/arbitration proceedings provided in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

FACTS: San Miguel Corporation, alleging the need to streamline its operations due to financial losses, shut down some of its plants and declared fifty-five positions as redundant. Consequently, San Miguel Corporation Employees Union (SMCEU) filed several grievance cases for said retrenched employees, praying for the redeployment of the said employees to the other divisions of the company. The grievance proceedings were conducted pursuant to the parties' Collective Bargaining Agreement. During the grievance proceedings, most of the employees were redeployed, while others accepted early retirement. As a result, only seventeen employees remained when the parties proceeded to the third level (Step 3) of the grievance procedure. SMC informed SMCEU that if the remaining seventeen employees could not be redeployed, their services would be terminated. The said meeting adjourned in a deadlock. SMCEU filed with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) a notice of strike on the grounds of collective bargaining deadlock and gross violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. SMC, on the other hand, filed a complaint with the NLRC for the dismissal of the notice of strike and to compel SMCEU to submit to grievance and arbitration. NLRC, however, dismissed the complaint for lack of merit. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the notice of strike should be dismissed.

HELD: The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative. The grounds relied upon by SMCEU are non-strikeable. The issues which may lend substance to the notice of strike filed by SMCEU are: collective bargaining deadlock and SMC's alleged violation of the CBA. These grounds, however, appear more illusory than real. Collective Bargaining Deadlock is defined as the situation between the labor and the management of the company where there is failure in the collective bargaining negotiations resulting in a stalemate. This situation is non-existent in the case at bar since there is a Board assigned on the grievance machinery to resolve the conflicting views of the parties. Instead of asking the Conciliation Board composed of five representatives each from the company and the union to decide the conflict, SMCEU declared a deadlock, and thereafter, filed a notice of strike. For failing to exhaust all the steps in the grievance machinery and arbitration proceedings provided in the CBA, the notice of strike should have been dismissed by the NLRC and ordered SMCEU to proceed with the grievance and arbitration proceedings. [San Miguel Corporation vs. National Labor Relations Commissions, et al; GR No. 99266; March 2,1999; THIRD DI VISION--- Purisima, J.]

LARGE SCALE ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT; Large Scale Illegal Recruitment has two following essential elements: (1) the accused undertook a recruitment activity under Art. 13 (b) or any prohibited practice under Art. 34 of the Labor Code; (2) he did not have the license or the authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; (3) he committed the same against three or more persons individually or as a group.

FACTS: Rhodeline Castillon was charged with the crime of illegal recruitment on a large scale. Allegedly, Castillon invited and convinced Emily Perturbos to work with her as factory worker in Malaysia. Castillon was also able to recruit Nelia Perturbos, Maria Dahlia Acol and Clemencia Bala-ag by making the same promise and asked from them four thousand pesos (P4,000) each as partial payment for the processing and placement fees. They paid Castillon the said amount in their desire to work abroad. Subsequently thereafter, Castillon never showed up. Nelia Perturbos inquired from the POEA whether Castillon had a license to recruit overseas workers. In response, POEA issued a certification declaring that Castillon had no license to recruit overseas workers. The Regional Trial Court of Davao City convicted the accused of the crime charged. On appeal, the defense alleged that the court erred in finding the accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of large scale illegal recruitment. Appellant avers that she was merely helping the complainants find jobs abroad for humanitarian reasons. Because she had been abroad before, she was allegedly "begged" by the complainants to help them find overseas employment.

ISSUE: Whether or not accused-appellant is guilty of large scale illegal recruitment.

HELD: The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative. First, contradicting appellants claim that her acts were motivated by humanitarian reasons, a handwritten letter presented as evidence in court revealed that appellant was looking for more applicants. This is consonant with the testimony of Nelia Perturbos that because appellant had not yet reached her quota, the latter persuaded her and her sister to apply for jobs abroad. Moreover, it is clear that Castillon demanded money from persons seeking employment abroad. Second, there is no question that the appellant did not have a license to engage in the recruitment of workers as evidenced by a certification issued by the POEA. And third, the crime was committed against more than three persons. Large scale illegal recruitment has the following essential elements: (1) the accused undertook a recruitment activity under Art. 13 (b) or any prohibited practice under Art. 34 of the Labor Code; (2) he did not have the license or the authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; (3) he committed the same against three or more persons individually or as a group. [People vs. Rhodeline Castillon; GR. No. 130940; April 21, 1999; THIRD DIVISION--- Panganiban , J.]

ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT BY A SYNDICATE; Illegal Recruitment is qualified to one committed by a syndicate if it is carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another in carrying out any unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme.

FACTS: Lorna B. Guevara, Josie Bea and Pedro Bea, Jr. were charged with the crime of illegal recruitment by a syndicate in large scale. Allegedly, accused Lorna B. Guevara visited all of the five complainants on separate occasions, convincing them to work abroad. She would accompany them to the house of the co-accused spouses Bea, who collected the corresponding placement fees. Consequently, sometime in September 1993, complainants left the Manila airport for Kuala Lumpur with instruction from accused-appellants that they will be fetched by their prospective employer. They waited until nighttime without anybody fetching them at the airport. Subsequently, the complainants contributed one hundred dollars ($100) each for their lodging expenses while waiting for the promised employment. After several days and realizing that there was no work for them in Malaysia, complainants returned to the Philippines. As against the evidence built by the prosecution, the accused-appellants merely raised the defense of denial. Subsequently, the Regional Trial Court of Legaspi City convicted the three accused of illegal recruitment by a syndicate in large scale and sentenced them to life imprisonment and to pay a fine of one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000) each. On appeal, accused-appellants maintained that the lower court erred in qualifying illegal recruitment to one committed by a syndicate because there was no proof that they acted in conspiracy with one another.

ISSUE: Whether or not the lower court erred in qualifying illegal recruitment to one committed by a syndicate.

HELD: The Supreme Court ruled in the negative. The contention that there was no proof of conspiracy must fail. The acts of accused-appellants showed unity of purpose. Guevara would visit each of the complainants in their houses for several times, convincing them to work abroad, and giving them the impression that she had the capability of sending them abroad. She would accompany them to the house of the spouses Bea, who in turn would collect the placement fees and process the passports and plane tickets. All these acts of the appellants established a. common criminal design mutually deliberated upon and accomplished through coordinated moves. In this case, there are three persons who conspired and confederated with one another to undertake illegal recruitment activities. Under the Labor Code, if such recruitment is carried out by a group of three (3) or more person, conspiring and/or confederating with one another in carrying out any unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme, it becomes one committed by a syndicate. [People vs. Guevarra; G.R. No. 120141; April 21, 1999; FIRST DIVISION--- Pardo, J.]

SERVICE OF NOTICE AND RESOLUTION; Notices or summons and copies of orders, resolutions or decisions shall be served on the parties to the case; Provided that where a party is represented by counsel or authorized representative, service shall be made on such counsel or authorized representative.

FACTS: Ruben Dela Cruz Romano and Lucio R. Maggay are truck driver and delivery truck helper respectively, in Associated Anglo-American Tobacco Corporation. Allegedly, private respondents were underpaid and deprived of their 13-month pay, service incentive leave pay and overtime pay. Private respondents filed a complaint against petitioner company before the Regional Arbitration of Tuguegarao, Cagayan. Summon was served on Elpidio Ching, named in the complaint of private respondent Romano, as petitioner's Owner/Manager/President. Atty. Jesus John B. Garma appeared for Ching and manifested that his client was a mere salesman, not an Owner nor President of petitioner corporation. Atty. Garma prayed that Ching be dropped as party defendant. The prayer was granted. For 3 scheduled mandatory conferences, petitioner failed to appear. No reason was given thus leaving the Labor Arbiter with no other option but to consider petitioner to have waived its right to be heard and to present evidence. The Labor Arbiter granted the money claims of private respondents. On appeal, public respondent National Labor Relations Commission dismissed the petition for having been filed beyond the 10-day prescriptive period. Based on the Bailiff's Report, the Labor Arbiter's decision was duly served on petitioner on February 23, 1996 through one Ernesto Garma of the law office of Atty. Jesus John B. Garma. From this date, petitioner-company has until March 4 to perfect its appeal. Unfortunately however, its appeal was perfected only on March 8, 1996, clearly beyond the 10-day prescriptive period. Petitioner now disputes the authority of Ernesto Garma and of Atty. Jesus John B. Garma to receive the Labor Arbiter's decision on its behalf. They argued that the said law office represents Ching and not the petitioner company.

ISSUE: Whether or not notice of the decision of the Labor Arbiter to Atty. Garma is notice to petitioner-company.

HELD: The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative. The contention of petitioner-company that Garma is not authorized to receive the copy of the decision must fail. Ching was an agent/ representative of petitioner based on petitioner's admission in the present petition that it learned about the instant case through Ching, who assured it of taking whatever action necessary to protect the interest of the company. This is a virtual admission that Elpidio Ching was its authorized representative in the proceedings before the Labor Arbiter. Precisely, that assurance by Ching coupled with the apparent acceptance thereof by petitioner was enough consideration to clothe Ching with authority to act as such. Consequently, the appearance of Atty. Garma for Ching, the latter being an authorized representative of petitioner, is considered as an appearance also on petitioner's behalf. Moreover, petitioner failed to show that Ching availed the services of Atty. Garma solely for Ching's personal benefit. Records showed that Atty. Garma was hired by Ching pursuant to the latter's role as authorized representative of petitioner. Therefore, the service of the Labor Arbiter's decision on February 23, 1996 on Ernesto Garma of the law office of Atty. Garma effectively bound petitioner. [Associated Anglo-American Tobacco Corporation vs. NLRC; G.R. No. 125602; April 29, 1999; SECOND DIVISION--- Bellosilo, J.]

ILLEGAL DISMISSAL; The requirement of notice and hearing in termination cases does not connote full adversarial proceedings. Actual adversarial proceedings become necessary only for clarification or when there is a need to propound searching questions to witnesses who give vague testimonies.

FACTS: Petitioner Enrique Arboleda was an employee of MERALCO for twenty-five years. One day, he received payment from one Antonio Sy for the latter's Found Connection (FC) bill, without issuing a receipt. But Umali, the Branch Manager chanced on the illegal connection of Sy and discovered the unaccounted payment. An investigation was conducted and Petitioner was suspended pending the investigation. Petitioner was consequently dismissed for misappropriating or withholding company funds, as supported by the affirmative testimony of Sy. Petitioner filed a case for illegal dismissal and it was subsequently sustained by the labor arbiter. However, on appeal by Meralco, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) reversed the labor arbiter. In a petition for certiorari seeking to set aside the decision of the respondent NLRC, Petitioner now claims that he was denied his right to due process during the investigation conducted by Meralco as he did not have the opportunity to confront the witnesses against him.

ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner was afforded due process and legally dismissed.

HELD: The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative. Before an employee can be validly dismissed, the Labor Code required the employer to furnish the employee with two (2) notices: (a) a written notice containing a statement of the cause for termination to afford the employee ample opportunity to be heard and defend himself with the assistance of his representative, if he so desires; and, (b) if the employer decides to terminate the services of the employee, the employer must notify him in writing of the decision to dismiss him, stating clearly the reasons therefor. This Meralco more than substantially complied with in the case at bar. The requirement of notice and hearing in termination cases does not connote full adversarial proceedings as elucidated in numerous cases decided by this Court. Actual adversarial proceedings become necessary only for clarification or when there is a need to propound searching questions to witnesses who give vague testimonies. This is a procedural right which the employee must ask for since it is not an inherent right, and summary proceedings may be conducted thereon. [Enrique A. Arboleda vs. NLRC and MERALCO; G.R. No. 119509; February 11, 1999; SECOND DIVISION --- Bellosillo, J.]

ILLEGAL DISMISSAL; All doubts in the implementation and interpretation of the provisions of the Labor Code including its implementing rules and regulations shall be resolved in favor of the employee.

FACTS: Private respondent Enrique Gabriel was a PLDT supervisor. Twice, he ordered installations of telephone units at Mandaluyong, Metro Manila. Later, both installation activities were investigated because (a) the Facilities Center Building had no entrance cable facilities or conduit wires for telephone connection, (b) Mandaluyong was not within respondent's area of jurisdiction, and (c) installers Mercado and Jocson were not under his direct supervision. Subsequently, Respondent was dismissed on the grounds of grave misconduct, breach of confidence and violations of company rules and regulations. Thereafter, a complaint for illegal dismissal was filed. The Labor Arbiter ruled against private Respondent Gabriel. On appeal, the NLRC reversed the same and ordered the reinstatement of private respondent with full backwages and other benefits. Thus, PLDT elevated this case to the Supreme Court on certiorari.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent NLRC abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in reversing the decision of the Labor Arbiter.

HELD: The Supreme Court ruled in the negative. According to the NLRC, it found no written rule of PLDT which provides that such unwarranted installation of telephone lines is subject to the penalty of dismissal. Nor was there any proof that the private respondent profited from the said setting up of telephone lines. Neither was there a showing that PLDT suffered losses from the assailed telephone service. Given these circumstances, a substantial doubt as to the validity of the termination appears, and the employee's claim of illegal dismissal accordingly gains credence because such doubt must be resolved in his favor. In carrying out and interpreting the Labor Code's provisions and its implementing regulations, the workingman's welfare should be the primordial and paramount consideration. This kind of interpretation gives meaning and substance to the liberal and compassionate spirit of the law as provided for in Article 4 of the New Labor Code which states that "all doubts in the implementation and interpretation of the provisions of the Labor Code including its implementing rules and regulations shall be resolved in favor of the employee." [PLDT vs. NLRC and Enrique Gabriel; G.R. No. 106947; February 11, 1999; SECOND DIVISION --- Quisumbing, J.]