Nissan v. Angelo (G.R. No.164181; September 14, 2011)

CASE DIGEST: NISSAN MOTORS PHILS., INC. v. VICTORINO ANGELO. (G.R. No.164181; September 14, 2011).

Respondent Victorino Angelo was employed by Nissan on March 11, 1989 as one of its payroll staff. On April 7 to 17, 2000, respondent was on sick leave, thus, he was not able to prepare the payroll for the said period. Again, on April 27 and 28, 2000, respondent was on an approved vacation leave which again resulted in the non-preparation of the payroll for that particular period.

On May 8, 2000, respondent received a Memorandum informing him that the Company is considering his dismissal from employment on the grounds ofserious misconduct, willful disobedience and gross neglect of duties.

Respondent filed a Complaintfor illegal suspension with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on May 12, 2000. Petitioner conducted an investigation on May 13, 2000, and concluded that respondent's explanation was untrue and insufficient. Thus, on June 13, 2000, petitioner issued a Notice of Termination. Respondent amended his previous complaint against petitioner on June 22, 2000, to include the charge of illegal dismissal.

Both the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC rendered a decision that respondent was not illegally dismissed. However, CA reversed the ruling and ordered the reinstatement of the respondent along with the payment of backwages from the time he was illegally dismissed

ISSUE: Was respondent illegally dismissed?
HELD: It must be emphasized at this point that the onus probandi to prove the lawfulness of the dismissal rests with the employer. In termination cases, the burden of proof rests upon the employer to show that the dismissal is for just and valid cause. Failure to do so would necessarily mean that the dismissal was not justified and, therefore, was illegal.In this case, both the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC were not amiss in finding that the dismissal of respondent was legal or for a just cause based on substantial evidence presented by petitioner. Substantial evidence, which is the quantum of proof required in labor cases, is that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.

However, although the dismissal was legal, respondent is still entitled to a separation pay as a measure of financial assistance, considering his length of service and his poor physical condition which was one of the reasons he filed a leave of absence. As a general rule, an employee who has been dismissed for any of the just causes enumerated under Article 282 of the Labor Code is not entitled to separation pay.Although by way of exception, the grant of separation pay or some other financial assistance may be allowed to an employee dismissed for just causes on the basis of equity. GRANTED.