The law on TERMINATION of employment

To constitute a valid dismissal from employment, two requisites must be met, namely: (1) the employee must be afforded due process, and (2) the dismissal must be for a valid cause. (G.R. No. 121004)

It is now settled that where the dismissal of an employee is in fact for a just and valid cause and is so proven to be but he is not accorded his right to due process, i.e., he was not furnished the twin requirements of notice and the opportunity to be heard, the dismissal shall be upheld but the employer must be sanctioned for non-compliance with the requirements of or for failure to observe due process. The sanction, in the nature of indemnification or penalty, depends on the facts of each case and the gravity of the omission committed by the employer. (G.R. No. 115394)

It is now settled that where the dismissal of one employee is in fact for a just and valid cause and is so proven to be but he is not accorded his right to due process, i.e., he was not furnished the twin requirements of notice and opportunity to be heard, the dismissal shall be upheld but the employer must be sanctioned for non-compliance with the requirements of, or for failure to observe, due process."

The rule reversed a long standing policy theretofore followed that even though the dismissal is based on a just cause or the termination of employment is for an authorized cause, the dismissal or termination is illegal if effected without notice to the employee. (G.R. No. 117040)
With respect to Art. 283 of the Labor Code, the employer's failure to comply with the notice requirement does not constitute a denial of due process but a mere failure to observe a procedure for the termination of employment which makes the termination of employment merely ineffectual. It is similar to the failure to observe the provisions of Art. 1592, in relation to Art. 1191, of the Civil Code in rescinding a contract for the sale of immovable property. Indeed, under the Labor Code, only the absence of a just cause for the termination of employment can make the dismissal of an employee illegal.

Thus, only if the termination of employment is not for any of the causes provided by law is it illegal and, therefore, the employee should be reinstated and paid backwages. (G.R. No. 117040)

For serious misconduct to exist, the act complained of should be corrupt or inspired by an intention to violate the law or a persistent disregard of well-known legal rules. On the other hand, in loss of trust and confidence, it must be shown that the employee concerned is responsible for the misconduct or infraction and that the nature of his participation therein rendered him absolutely unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded by his position. (G.R. No. 164081)

Under Article 282 of the Labor Code, gross and habitual neglect of duties is a valid ground for an employer to terminate an employee. Gross negligence implies a want or absence of or a failure to exercise slight care or diligence, or the entire absence of care. It evinces a thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any effort to avoid them. Habitual neglect implies repeated failure to perform one's duties for a period of time, depending upon the circumstances. (G.R. No. 165565; G.R. No. 166211)

In any event, under Article 282 of the Labor Code, an employer may terminate an employee for gross and habitual neglect of duties. Neglect of duty, to be a ground for dismissal, must be both gross and habitual. Gross negligence connotes want of care in the performance of one's duties. Habitual neglect implies repeated failure to perform one's duties for a period of time, depending upon the circumstances. A single or isolated act of negligence does not constitute a just cause for the dismissal of the employee. (G.R. No. 172031)

Under Article 282 of the Labor Code, an unsatisfactory rating can be a just cause for dismissal only if it amounts to gross and habitual neglect of duties. Thus, the fact that an employee's performance is found to be poor or unsatisfactory does not necessarily mean that the employee is grossly and habitually negligent of his duties. Gross negligence implies a want or absence of or failure to exercise slight care or diligence, or the entire absence of care. It evinces a thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any effort to avoid them. (G.R. No. 177576)

Of course, ordinary misconduct would not justify the termination of the services of an employee. The law is explicit that the misconduct should be serious. It is settled that in order for misconduct to be serious, "it must be of such grave and aggravated character and not merely trivial or unimportant". As amplified by jurisprudence, the misconduct must (1) be serious; (2) relate to the performance of the employee's duties; and (3) show that the employee has become unfit to continue working for the employer. (G.R. No. 166096; G.R. No. 164016)
In Gustilo v. Wyeth Philippines, Inc., we held that a series of irregularities when put together may constitute serious misconduct. We also held that gross neglect of duty becomes serious in character due to frequency of instances. (G.R. No. 171023)

To reiterate our ruling in Toyota, labor adjudicatory officials and the CA must demur the award of separation pay based on social justice when an employee's dismissal is based on serious misconduct or willful disobedience; gross and habitual neglect of duty; fraud or willful breach of trust; or commission of a crime against the person of the employer or his immediate family — grounds under Art. 282 of the Labor Code that sanction dismissals of employees. They must be most judicious and circumspect in awarding separation pay or financial assistance as the constitutional policy to provide full protection to labor is not meant to be an instrument to oppress the employers. The commitment of the Court to the cause of labor should not embarrass us from sustaining the employers when they are right, as here. In fine, we should be more cautious in awarding financial assistance to the undeserving and those who are unworthy of the liberality of the law. (G.R. No. 171023)

Constructive dismissal exists when an act of clear discrimination, insensibility or disdain by an employer has become so unbearable to the employee leaving him with no option but to forego with his continued employment. (G.R. No. 170661)

Well settled is the dictum that the twin requirements of notice and hearing constitute the essential elements of due process in the dismissal of employees. It is a cardinal rule in our jurisdiction that the employer must furnish the employee with two written notices before the termination of employment can be affected: (a) the first apprises the employee of the particular acts or omissions for which his dismissal is sought; and (b) the second informs the employee of the employer's decision to dismiss him. (G.R. No. 170661)

As a general rule, an employee who has been dismissed for any of the just causes enumerated under Article 282 of the Labor Code is not entitled to separation pay.

Although by way of exception, the grant of separation pay or some other financial assistance may be allowed to an employee dismissed for just causes on the basis of equity.

The reason that the law does not statutorily grant separation pay or financial assistance in instances of termination due to a just cause is precisely because the cause for termination is due to the acts of the employee. In such instances, however, this Court, inspired by compassionate and social justice, has in the past awarded financial assistance to dismissed employees when circumstances warranted such an award. (G.R. No. 165951)

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