Anflo Management vs. Lagdameo

G.R. No. 141608. October 4, 2002.

FACTS:

Respondent, Rodolfo Bolanio was employed as company driver of Anflo Corp. and was assigned to the residence of its senior vice-president Lagdameo. His main task is to transport Regina, the daughter of Lagdameo, to and from her work.  Regina and Bolanio got involved in a heated argument stemming from respondent’s failure to follow Regina’s instructions regarding road directions.

Linda confronted Bolanio and accused him of verbally abusing her daughter.  Respondent tried to explain that he did not say anything against petitioner’s daughter but Linda would not give him a chance and instead shouted the words “you’re fired” at him. He was then ordered to return company ID, uniform and was allowed to work anymore.

Respondent filed a complaint for illegal dismissal with a prayer for reinstatement and payment of monetary claims with Labor Arbiter.

Petitioners denied dismissing respondent from employment. They maintained that respondent abandoned his work.

LA dismissed the complaint on the ground that herein respondent had abandoned his work.

The NLRC held that respondent did not abandon his work nor was he illegally dismissed by petitioners. It directed respondent Bolanio to report for work and ordered petitioners to accept him back as company diver.

Respondent filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals which found respondent was illegally dismissed

ISSUE:

Whether respondent was unlawfully dismissed by petitioners

HELD:

Yes. The acts of Linda Lagdameo were indicative of her intention to dismiss respondent from employment.

For a valid dismissal to occur, the twin requirements of notice and hearing must be complied with. Failure to comply with the requirements taint the dismissal with illegality. In this case, no hearing was conducted to give Bolanio the opportunity to be heard and defend himself. There was also no clear, valid, and legal cause for the termination of the employment.

Compliance with the mandatory requirements was undeniably absent in the case at bar.

No hearing was conducted in order to give respondent the opportunity to be heard and defend himself. He was simply told “you’re fired” after a disagreement with Lagdameo’s daughter. Clearly, respondent’s services were terminated without any regard for an employee’s right to procedural and substantive due process.

The burden is then on the employer to prove that the termination was for a valid or justified cause. Petitioners failed to discharge its burden.

For abandonment to exist, two elements must concur: (1) the failure to report for work or absence without valid or justifiable reason and (2) a clear intention to sever the employer-employee relationship. Of the two, the second element is the more determinative factor.

The filing of said complaint was proof enough of his desire to return to work, thus negating any suggestion of abandonment. It is settled that the filing of a complaint for illegal dismissal is inconsistent with a charge of abandonment, for an employee who takes steps to protest his lay-off cannot by any logic be said to have abandoned his work.

The reason for the passage of labor laws is social justice. The Constitution says that “the State affirms labor as a primary social economic force, and therefore, it shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare. (Article II, Sec 18)

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