Co v. Vargas (G.R. No. 195167; November 16, 2011)

CASE DIGEST: FERNANDO CO (formerly doing business under the name "Nathaniel Mami House"*) v. LINA B. VARGAS. (G.R. No. 195167; November 16, 2011).

FACTS: Respondent alleged that she started working at the bakeshop in October 1994 as a baker and worked from 8:00 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Aside from baking, respondent also served the customers and supervised the other workers in the absence of the owner. Furthermore, respondent claimed that she sometimes cooked and did the chores of a housemaid whenever the latter was not available. Respondent had a salary of P220 per day, which she received every Saturday afternoon. During the period of her employment, respondent was not given a payslip and she was never asked to sign a payroll.

On 6 April 2003, petitioner Cos wife, Nely Co, told respondent to cook their lunch because the housemaid was ironing clothes. Since respondent was busy preparing customers orders, she lost track of time and was unable to cook lunch as instructed. Irate at respondents failure to cook, Nely Co cussed respondent and told her to leave and never to return because she was not needed anymore. Respondent was so humiliated and could no longer bear the treatment she received from her employers that she decided to take her salary and leave that same day. Respondent later filed the complaint against Nathaniel Bakeshop and its owner Fernando Co for underpayment or non-payment of wages and holiday pay; illegal dismissal and non-payment of service incentive leave.

Petitioner denies respondents claim that she was employed as a baker in their business. Petitioner alleges that they hired respondent to work as a housemaid. Petitioner alleges that in April 2003, his wife, Nely Co, reprimanded respondent for her failure to cook lunch on time. Angered at being reprimanded, respondent then demanded her salary and walked out of petitioners residence and has never reported for work again. Petitioner further avers that respondent badmouthed petitioners daughter and displayed defiance, disrespect and insubordination toward them.

The Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision in favor of the respondent finding that the place of business of petitioner is the same as his place of residence and that respondent works for petitioner as well as for his business which is based in his home thereby entitling the respondent to security of tenure.

On appeal, the NLRC reversed and set aside the Labor Arbiters Decision. The NLRC concluded that respondent was not employed as a baker at petitioners bakeshop but was merely petitioners housemaid who left her employ voluntarily. The NLRC found petitioner not guilty of illegal dismissal.

The Court of Appeals annulled the NLRC Decision and reinstated the Decision of the Labor Arbiter.ISSUE: Did the Court of Appeals err in ruling that at the time Respondent was working with the Co family, the business was being conducted at the residence?

HELD: The issue raised by petitioner is clearly a question of fact which requires a review of the evidence presented. The Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. It is not the function of this Court to examine, review or evaluate the evidence all over again, Especially on evidence raised for the first time on appeal.

The jurisdiction of the Court in cases brought before it from the appellate court is limited to reviewing errors of law, and findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are conclusive upon the Court since it is not the Courts function to analyze and weigh the evidence all over again. Nevertheless, in several cases, the Court enumerated the exceptions to the rule that factual findings of the Court of Appeals are binding on the Court: (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculations, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to that of the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; or (11) when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion.

Petitioner failed to show that this case falls under any of the exceptions. The finding of the Labor Arbiter that petitioners bakery and his residence are located at the same place was not reversed by the NLRC. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals upheld this finding of the Labor Arbiter. We find no justifiable reason to deviate from the findings and ruling of the Court of Appeals.