Peckson vs. Robinsons Supermarket Corporation;

G.R. No. 198534. July 3, 2013.

FACTS:

Peckson was holding the position of Category Buyer in RSC when respondent Sarte, RSC’s Assistant Vice-President for Merchandising, reassigned her to the position of Provincial Coordinator. The petitioner refused to turn over her responsibilities claiming that her new assignment was a demotion because it was non-supervisory and clerical in nature.

Sarte demanded twice for an  explanation within 48 hours and cited one of its company rules which “disobedience, refusal or failure to do assigned task or to obey superior’s/official’s orders/ins­tructions, or to follow established procedures or practices without valid reason” would be meted the penalty of suspension. She also assigned tasks which Peckson refused to heed.

Petitioner filed a complaint for constructive dismissal against RSC, Sarte, Gadia and Alex (respondents).  The petitioner argued before the LA that the position of Category Buyer was one level above that of the Provincial Coordinator thus a demotion.

The respondents in their position paper denied the correctness of the organizational chart and maintained that her transfer was not a demotion since the Provincial Coordinator occupied a “Level 5” position, with the same work conditions, salary and benefits. There are also records of habitual tardiness, poor performance rating and suspension for violating a company policy. Sarte that the reassignment was made in the exercise of management prerogative and sound discretion.

The LA ruled that job reassignment is a strict prerogative of the employer and does not amount to constructive dismissal. Peckson’s persistent refusal to accept her new position also  amounted to insubordination, entitling the RSC to dismiss her from employment. The NLRC sustained the findings of LA. The CA found no basis to deviate from the oft-repeated tenet that the findings of fact and conclusions of the NLRC

ISSUE :

WON Peckson’s lateral transfer from Category Buyer to Provincial Coordinator was a demotion amounting to constructive dismissal because her reassignment was not a valid exercise of management prerogative, but was done in bad faith and without due process.

HELD:

No, the Court upheld the employer’s prerogative to regulate all aspects of employment relating to the employees’ work assignment, the working methods and the place and manner of work. Labor laws discourage interference with an employer’s judgment in the conduct of his business.

As a privilege inherent in the employer’s right to control and manage its enterprise effectively, its freedom to conduct its business operations to achieve its purpose cannot be denied. If the transfer of an employee is not unreasonable, or inconvenient, or prejudicial to him, and it does not involve a demotion in rank or a diminution of his salaries, benefits and other privileges, the employee may not complain that it amounts

to a constructive dismissal. Peckson’s deliberate and unjustified refusal to assume her new assignment is a form of neglect of duty, and according to the LA, an act of insubordination.

But like all other rights, there are limits to the exercise of managerial prerogative to transfer personnel, and on the employer is laid the burden to show that the same is without grave abuse of discretion, bearing in mind the basic elements of justice and fair play.30 Indeed, management prerogative may not be used as a subterfuge by the employer to rid himself of an undesirable worker. Under the doctrine of management prerogative, every employer has the inherent right to regulate, according to his own discretion and judgment, all aspects of employment, including hiring, work assignments, working methods, the time, place and manner of work, work supervision, transfer of employees, lay-off of workers, and discipline, dismissal, and recall of employees. The only limitations to the exercise of this prerogative are those imposed by labor laws and the principles of equity and substantial justice.

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