GLOBE MACKAY CABLE AND RADIO CORP., and HERBERT C. HENDRY, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and RESTITUTO M. TOBIAS, respondents.
G.R. No. 81262. August 25, 1989.*
Restituto M. Tobias was employed by petitioner Globe Mackay who discovered the anomalies and reported them to his immediate superior Eduardo T. Ferraren and to petitioner Herbert C. Hendry who was then the Executive Vice-President and General Manager of GLOBE MACKAY.
A day after Tobias made the report, petitioner Hendry confronted him by stating that he was the number one suspect, and ordered him to take a one week forced leave, not to communicate with the office, to leave his table drawers open, and to leave the office keys.
When Tobias returned to work after the forced leave, Hendry went up to him and called him a “crook” and a “swindler” and terminated him from his employment. He was instructed to submit specimen of his handwriting, signature, and initials for examination by the police investigators to determine his complicity in the anomalies.
Petitioners filed a complaint for estafa and five other criminal complaints despite the two police reports exculpating Tobias from the anomalies. Whereupon, Tobias filed a complaint for illegal dismissal which later entered into a compromise agreement regarding the latter’s complaint for illegal dismissal.
Unemployed, Tobias sought employment with the Republic Telephone Company (RETELCO). However, petitioner Hendry, without being asked by RETELCO, wrote a letter to the latter stating that Tobias was dismissed by GLOBE MACKAY due to dishonesty. Private respondent Tobias filed a civil case for damages anchored on alleged unlawful, malicious, oppressive, and abusive acts of petitioners.
Petitioners claim that they did not violate any provision of law since they were merely exercising their legal right to dismiss private respondent.
Whether or not petitioners have abused the right and are liable for damages to private respondent.
YES. petitioners have indeed abused the right that they invoke, causing damage to private respondent and for which the latter must now be indemnified. The imputation of guilt without basis during the investigations of Tobias transgress the standards of human conduct set forth in Article 19 of the Civil Code. The right of the employer to dismiss an employee should not be confused with the manner in which the right is exercised and the effects flowing therefrom. If the dismissal is done abusively, then the employer is liable for damages to the employee. But petitioners were not content with just dismissing Tobias. Hendry told him to just confess or else the company would file a hundred more cases against him until he landed in jail. The scornful remark about Filipinos as well as Hendry’s earlier statements about Tobias being a “crook” and “swindler” are clear violations of Tobias’ personal dignity [See Article 26, Civil Code]. The next tortious act committed by petitioners was the writing of a letter to RETELCO that causes failure to gain employment.