PLDT v. Teves (G.R. No. 143511; November 15, 2010)


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FACTS: Respondent was employed as Clerk of PLDT until he was terminated because he violated the (3) unauthorized leaves of absence committed within 3 years, contrary to the policy of PLDT. From 1990 and 1992, there were 3 instances of unauthorized leaves of absence from the Respondent. On the final instance, the explanation of Teves was unmeritorious, which led to his dismissal. He filed a complaint of illegal dismissal before the Labor Arbiter.

The Arbiter found out that the dismissal was legal, but it ordered PLDT to give 20,000 php to Teves. Teves appealed to the NLRC, which reversed the Arbiters decision. It upheld the validity of the absence on account of Teves wife having complications during childbirth.

PLDT filed a petition for Certiorari with the CA, which affirmed the decision of the NLRC. The CA found that respondent's comportment cannot be characterized as grave so as to constitute grave misconduct; that his first two leaves of absence were satisfactorily justifiedISSUE: Does the conduct of Teves warrant and justify dismissal?

HELD: Even assuming that respondent's absenteeism constitutes willful disobedience, such offense does not warrant respondent's dismissal.Not every case of insubordination or willful disobedience by an employee reasonably deserves the penalty of dismissal. There must be a reasonable proportionality between the offense and the penalty.

While management has the prerogative to discipline its employees and to impose appropriate penalties on erring workers, pursuant to company rules and regulations, however, such management prerogatives must be exercised in good faith for the advancement of the employers interest and not for the purpose of defeating or circumventing the rights of the employees under special laws and valid agreements. The Court is wont to reiterate that while an employer has its own interest to protect, and pursuant thereto, it may terminate an employee for a just cause, such prerogative to dismiss or lay off an employee must be exercised without abuse of discretion.Its implementation should be tempered with compassion and understanding.The employer should bear in mind that, in the execution of said prerogative, what is at stake is not only the employees position, but his very livelihood,his very breadbasket.

However, since one of the instances is unjustified, it is to be subtracted from the reinstatement. PARTIALLY GRANTED.