Tanala v. NLRC (G.R. No. 116588; January 24, 1996)


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1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; RULE WHERE FINDINGS OF LABOR ARBITER AND NLRC ARE CONTRARY TO EACH OTHER. The factual findings of administrative bodies are, as a rule, binding on this Court, but this is true only when they do not come under the established exceptions. One of these is where the findings of the labor arbiter and the NLRC are contrary to each other. In the instant case, the findings of the NLRC and the labor arbiter are inconsistent, hence there is a necessity to review the records to determine which of them should be preferred as more conformable to the evidentiary facts.

2. ID.; ID.; TESTIMONIES; POSITIVE TESTIMONY DISTINGUISHED FROM NEGATIVE. In the written report of the security guard it was specifically affirmed in a detailed and straightforward manner that petitioner brought out a knife from his bag inside the companys garage. Testimony is positive when the witness affirms that a fact did or did not occur, and negative when he says that he did not see or know of the factual occurrence. Positive testimony is entitled to greater weight.

3. LABOR AND SOCIAL LEGISLATION; TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT; VIOLATION OF COMPANY RULES AS A GROUND; PAYMENT OF SEPARATION PAY STILL PROPER IN CASE EMPLOYEE HAD RENDERED SERVICES FOR A CONSIDERABLE PERIOD OF TIME. An employee may be validly dismissed for violation of a reasonable company rule or regulation adopted for the conduct of the companys business. It is recognized principle that company policies and regulations are, unless shown to be grossly oppressive or contrary to law, generally valid and binding on the parties and must be complied with until finally revised or amended, unilaterally or preferably through negotiation, by competent authority. However, considering the other attendant circumstances, viz.; the incident occurred outside company premises after office hours, and this is the first infraction committed by petitioner after working with the company for almost fifteen years without any previous derogatory record, the ends of social and compassionate justice would be served if petitioner be given some equitable relief in the form of separation pay. In the case of Soco vs. Mercantile Corporation of Davao, et al. cited in Cruz vs. Medina, et al., we ruled that where an employee who had been dismissed for violation of company rules had been employed for eighteen years, he may be afforded some equitable relief in consideration of the past services rendered by him by granting him separation pay equivalent to one months salary for every year of his service to the company.

4. ID.; ID.; DUE PROCESS REQUIREMENT; MUST BE OBSERVED FOR VALIDITY THEREOF. -Petitioner was denied procedural due process. His dismissal was not preceded by any notice of the charges against him and a hearing thereon. The twin requirements of notice and hearing constitute the essential elements of due process in cases of dismissal of employees. The purpose of the first requirement is obviously to enable the employee to defend himself against the charge preferred against him by presenting and substantiating his version of the facts. The notice of preventive suspension cannot be considered as an adequate notice. Even the fact that petitioner submitted a written explanation after the receipt of the order of suspension is not the ample opportunity to be heard contemplated by law. Ample opportunity to be heard is especially accorded to the employee sought to be dismissed after he is informed of the charges in order to give him an opportunity to refute such accusation levelled against him. Furthermore, this Court has repeatedly held that to meet the requirements of due process, the law requires that an employer must furnish the worker sought to be dismissed with two written notices before termination of employment can be legally effected, that is, (1) a notice which apprises the employee of the particular acts or omissions for which his dismissal is sought; and (2) the subsequent notice, after due hearing, which informs the employee of the employers decision to dismiss him. In the instant case, petitioner was not furnished either a written charge or a notice of dismissal. Petitioner was never informed of why after his suspension of thirty days, he was no longer allowed to work. Quite clearly, therefore, respondent company violated petitioners right to procedural due process before the termination of his employment. Ergo, he must be given indemnity in the amount of P1,000.00