Twin Requirements for Valid Dismissal

Under the Labor Code, there are twin requirements to justify a valid dismissal from employment: [1] The dismissal must be for any of the causes provided in Article 282 of the Labor Code (substantive aspect); and [2] The employee must be given an opportunity to be heard and to defend himself (procedural aspect).
The essence of the due process requirement being a mere opportunity to be heard, we agree with the Court of Appeals that although respondent was given a limited time to explain his side and present evidence, he, however, was able to refute the findings of petitioner. Hence, the chance afforded to respondent, although limited, is a clear opportunity to be heard on the issue at hand. What the law abhors and prohibits is the absolute absence of the opportunity to be heard.

It is necessary for this Court to clarify and explicitly declare that no liability for respondent’s illegal dismissal should attach to petitioners Aguiluz and Cruz, and respondent’s complaint as against them should be dismissed. Unless they have exceeded their authority, corporate officers are, as a general rule, not personally liable for their official acts, because a corporation, by legal fiction, has a personality separate and distinct from its officers, stockholders and members. (G.R. No. 178520; June 23, 2009)

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