Hanjin Heavy Ind. And Cons.Ltd v Ibanez

G.R. No. 170181             June 26, 2008

FACTS:

Respondents Felicito Ibañez, Aligwas Carolino, Elmer Gacula, Enrique Dagotdot, Ruel Calda, and four other co-workers filed a complaint before the NLRC for illegal dismissal with prayer for reinstatement and full backwages against petitioners.  The group alleged that the contract they have is good for three months, subject to automatic renewal if there is no notice of termination from Hanjin, and that the contract would automatically terminate upon the completion of the project. Respondents stated that they are regular employees since their tasks were usual and necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of HANJIN.

Hanjin maintained that respondents were hired as project employees for the construction of the LRT/MRT Line 2 Package 2 and 3 Project. HANJIN and respondents purportedly executed contracts of employment, in which it was clearly stipulated that the respondents were to be hired as project employees for a period of only three months, but that the contracts may be renewed

Petitioners failed to furnish the Labor Arbiter a copy of said contracts of employment.

The Labor Arbiter found merit in the respondents’ complaint and declared that they were regular employees who had been dismissed without just and valid causes and without due process.

ISSUE:

WON the respondents shall be considered regular employees?

HELD:

YES. Due to petitioners’ failure to adduce any evidence showing that petitioners were project employees who had been informed of the duration and scope of their employment, they were unable to discharge the burden of proof required to establish that respondents’ dismissal was legal and valid. Furthermore, it is a well-settled doctrine that if doubts exist between the evidence presented by the employer and that by the employee, the scales of justice must be tilted in favor of the latter. For these reasons, respondents are to be considered regular employees of HANJIN.

Article 280 of the Labor Code distinguishes a “project employee” from a “regular employee”. The principal test for determining whether particular employees are properly characterized as “project employees” as distinguished from “regular employees” is whether or not the project employees were assigned to carry out a “specific project or undertaking,” the duration and scope of which were specified at the time the employees were engaged for that project

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