SC: Employee with attitude problem may be fired

An employee who cannot get along with his co-employees is detrimental to the company for he can upset and strain the working environment. Without the necessary teamwork and synergy, the organization cannot function well. Thus, management has the prerogative to take the necessary action to correct the situation and protect its organization. When personal differences between employees and management affect the work environment, the peace of the company is affected. Thus, an employee's attitude problem is a valid ground for his termination. It is a situation analogous to loss of trust and confidence that must be duly proved by the employer. Similarly, compliance with the twin requirement of notice and hearing must also be proven by the employer.

But the employee's supposed "attitude problem" must be shown by clear and convincing evidence. The mere mention of negative feedback from the employee's team members is not sufficient proof of her attitude problem. And her failure to refute the employer's allegation of her negative attitude does not amount to admission.(G.R. No. 154410)Nonetheless, Article 282 (e) of the Labor Code talks of other analogous causes or those which are susceptible of comparison to another in general or in specific detail. For an employee to be validly dismissed for a cause analogous to those enumerated in Article 282, the cause must involve a voluntary and/or willful act or omission of the employee. (G.R. No. 169549)

A cause analogous to serious misconduct is a voluntary and/or willful act or omission attesting to an employee's moral depravity. Theft committed by an employee against a person other than his employer, if proven by substantial evidence, is a cause analogous to serious misconduct. (G.R. No. 169549)

In other words, although "attitude problem" is not one of those specifically enumerated under the Labor Code as one of the grounds for the valid dismissal of an employee, the Supreme court has considered as included in the term "analogous causes" because, if such behavior already adversely affects the working environment, the employer is justified in believing that it is a serious misconduct.

However, it must be recalled that allegations of "attitude problem" should be substantiated with sufficient proof. In labor law, the proof required is substantial. Substantial evidence is defined as such amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.

READ MORE: Coworker's negative feedback not proof of employee's attitude problem - Supreme Court.

Another interesting case is that of Sy v. Neat (G.R. No. 213748, November 27, 2017.

Sy's insubordination of changing his delivery utility without permission from the operations manager is no doubt a misconduct, but not a serious and willful one as to cost him his livelihood. Concededly, Sy's act of unilaterally assigning to himself another delivery utility in lieu of the one designated to him, reflects his attitude problem and disregard of a lawful order of a representative of the employer. Be that as it may, such willful disobedience cannot be deemed to depict a wrongful attitude, because it was prompted by his desire to carry out his duty without distractions. It is not farfetched that Sy's annoyance with the delivery utility assigned to him, who annoyed him earlier in the day by blocking his way to the daily time record, could have prevented him from performing his task, or worst, could have resulted in fisticuffs with the said co-worker.

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