Tamsons v. CA (G.R. No. 192881; November 16, 2011)


FACTS: It appears that on September 1, 2006, Sy was hired by Tamsons as Assistant to the President. On February 24, 2007, four days before she completed her sixth month of working in Tamsons, Ng, Sy was informed that her services would be terminated due to inefficiency.

Sy claimed that the remarks of her superiors about her alleged inefficiency were ill-motivated and made without any basis. She had been rendering services for almost six (6) months before she was arbitrarily and summarily dismissed.The petitioners did not show her any evaluation or appraisal report regarding her alleged inefficient performance.

Petitioners asserted that before Sy was hired, she was apprised that she was being hired as a probationary employee for six months, subject to extension as a regular employee conditioned on her meeting the standards of permanent employment set by the company. Her work performance was thereafter monitored and evaluated. On February 1, 2007, she was formally informed that her employment would end because she failed to meet the company's standards.

Sy filed a case for illegal dismissal.

The ELA rendered a decision in favor of Sy, stating that a termination, notwithstanding the probationary status, must be for a just cause.

Dissatisfied, the petitioners appealed to the NLRC. The NLRC reversed the ELAs finding. The NLRC reasoned out that failure to qualify for regular employment is in itself a just cause for termination of probationary employment.

The MR having been denied, Sy elevated her case to the CA via a petition for certiorari under Rule 65.

On February 26, 2010, the CA reversed the NLRC. The petitioners sought reconsideration but it was denied.

Hence, the present petition before this Court.

ISSUE: Was the termination of Sy, a probationary employee, valid?

HELD: Even if probationary employees do not enjoy permanent status, they are accorded the constitutional protection of security of tenure. They may only be terminated for a just cause or when they otherwise fail to qualify as regular employees in accordance with reasonable standards made known to them by the employer at the time of their engagement.

One of the conditions before an employer can terminate a probationary employee is dissatisfaction on the part of the employer which must be real and in good faith, not feigned so as to circumvent the contract or the law. Here, absent any proof showing that the work performance of petitioner was unsatisfactory, We cannot conclude that petitioner failed to meet the standards. This absence of proof leads Us to infer that their dissatisfaction with her work performance was contrived so as not to regularize her employment.The power of the employer to terminate an employee on probation is not without limitations. Here, the petitioners failed to convey to Sy the standards upon which she should measure up to be considered for regularization and how the standards had been applied in her case. Petitioners dissatisfaction was at best self-serving and dubious as they could not present concrete and competent evidence establishing her alleged incompetence. Failure on the part of the petitioners to discharge the burden of proof is indicative that the dismissal was not justified.

The law is clear that in all cases of probationary employment, the employer shall make known to the employee the standards under which he will qualify as a regular employee at the time of his engagement. Where no standards are made known to the employee at that time, he shall be deemed a regular employee. The standards under which she would qualify as a regular employee not having been communicated to her at the start of her probationary period, Sy qualified as a regular employee.

Assuming that Sy failed to meet the standards that was made known to her, the termination was still flawed flawed for failure to give the required notice to Sy. In this case, the petitioners failed to comply with the requirement of a written notice. Notably, Sy was merely verbally informed that her employment would be terminated as admitted by the petitioners. Considering that the petitioners failed to observe due process in dismissing her, the dismissal had no legal sanction. It bears stressing that a workers employment is property in the constitutional sense.