Back wages prior to RA 6715 & impossibility of reinstatement

The award of back wages for three years is due to the fact that the illegal dismissal in question was effected prior to the effectivity of R.A. No. 6715 on 21 March 1989. As the said statute had no retroactive effect, the controlling doctrine then was the Mercury Drug rule. After the effectivity of R.A. No. 6715, an illegally dismissed employee is entitled to payment of back wages from the time he was illegally dismissed from his employment until he is reinstated subject, however, as decreed by this Court, to deduction of the income the employee may have derived from employment elsewhere during the period of his illegal termination. We do not discount the impossibility of reinstatement of the petitioner considering that his position or any equivalent position may no longer be available and that this protracted litigation may have seriously antagonized the relationship of the parties so as to render reinstatement impractical. Accordingly, the petitioner may be awarded separation pay in lieu of reinstatement, as in Pepsi-Cola Distributors of the Philippines, Inc. vs. National Labor Relations Commission on the basis of service from the time the petitioner was employed by PCD (July 1981) until the actual payment of separation pay in accordance with this decision. [G.R. No. 117945. November 13, 1996]