Discharging a Pregnant Worker


Article 137 contemplates the following prohibited acts in connection with the pregnancy of a woman employee:

[1] To discharge her on account of her pregnancy; or
[2] To discharge her while she is on leave due to her pregnancy; or
[3] To discharge her while she is in confinement due to her pregnancy; or
[4] To discharge her upon returning to her work for fear that she may again be pregnant; or
[5] To refuse her admission upon returning to her work for fear that she may again be pregnant.
Del Monte Philippines, Inc. v. Velasco (G.R. NO. 153477; March 6, 2007)

The series of absences of the respondent due to pregnancy and its related ailments, such as urinary tract infection, was found not to be a valid ground to dismiss her from employment. The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals in concluding that respondent’s sickness was pregnancy-related and, therefore, the petitioner cannot terminate respondent’s services because in doing so, petitioner will, in effect, be violating the Labor Code which, under Article 137 thereof, prohibits an employer to discharge an employee on account of the latter’s pregnancy. The Court was convinced that the petitioner terminated the services of respondent on account of her pregnancy which justified her absences and, thus, committed a prohibited act rendering the dismissal illegal.

Lakpue Drug, Inc. v. Belga (G.R. No. 166379; October 20, 2005)

Respondent was dismissed for allegedly deliberately concealing her pregnancy and for incurring absences without official leave for 16 days at which time she delivered her baby. Petitioner argues that such non-disclosure is tantamount to dishonesty. In finding the penalty of dismissal too harsh and illegal, the Supreme Court ruled that the alleged misconduct of Belga barely falls within the situation contemplated by law. Her absence for 16 days was justified considering that she had just delivered a child, which can hardly be considered a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty; much less does it imply wrongful intent on the part of Belga. Petitioner harps on the alleged concealment by Belga of her pregnancy. This argument, however, begs the question as to how one can conceal a full-term pregnancy. The Court agreed with respondent’s position that it can hardly escape notice how she grows bigger each day. While there may be instances where the pregnancy may be inconspicuous, it has not been sufficiently proven by petitioner that Belga’s case is such.

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