Alert Security v. Pasawilan (G.R. No. 182397; September 14, 2011)


In the case at bar, respondent security guards were relieved from their posts because they filed with the Labor Arbiter a complaint against their employer for money claims due to underpayment of wages. Respondents aver that because they were underpaid, they filed a complaint for money claims against Alert Security. As a result they were relieved from their posts in the DOST and were not given new assignments. Petitioners, on the other hand, deny that they dismissed the respondents. They claimed that from the DOST, respondents were merely detailed at the Metro Rail Transit, Inc. at the LRTA Compound in Aurora Blvd. because the wages therein were already adjusted to the latest minimum wage. Respondents, however, failed to report at the LRTA and instead kept loitering at the DOST and tried to convince other security guards to file complaints against Alert Security, hence they filed a termination report. LA stated that respondents were illegally dismissed but NLRC set aside the decision. CA reversed the decision of NLRC and denied MR hence this case.

ISSUE: Were the respondents illegally dismissed?

HELD: The Supreme Court found that this was not a valid cause for dismissal. The Labor Code enumerates several just and authorized causes for a valid termination of employment. An employee asserting his right and asking for minimum wage is not among those causes.As a rule, an employer without any just or authorized cause cannot terminate employee. No less than the 1987 Constitution in Section 3, Article 13 guarantees security of tenure for workers and because of this, an employee may only be terminated for just or authorized causes that must comply with the due process requirements mandated by law. Hence, employers are barred from arbitrarily removing their workers whenever and however they want. The law sets the valid grounds for termination as well as the proper procedure to take when terminating the services of an employee. In the case at bar, respondents were relieved from their posts because they filed with the Labor Arbiter a complaint against their employer for money claims due to underpayment of wages. This reason is unacceptable and illegal. Nowhere in the law providing for the just and authorized causes of termination of employment is there any direct or indirect reference to filing a legitimate complaint for money claims against the employer as a valid ground for termination.Petitioners aver that respondents were merely transferred to a new post wherein the wages are adjusted to the current minimum wage standards. They maintain that the respondents voluntarily abandoned their jobs when they failed to report for duty in the new location. Assuming that this contention was true, the Supreme Court held that there was no abandonment of work. For there to be abandonment: first, there should be a failure of the employee to report for work without a valid or justifiable reason, and second, there should be a showing that the employee intended to sever the employer-employee relationship. The fact that petitioners filed a complaint for illegal dismissal is indicative of their intention to remain employed with private respondent. On the first element of failure to report for work, in this case, there was no showing that respondents were notified of their new assignments. Granting that the Duty Detail Orders were indeed issued, they served no purpose unless the intended recipients of the orders are informed of such. Therefore, the Court held that there was no abandonment of work in this case. DENIED.

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