Case Digest: ALPS v. Rodriguez

G. R. No. 186732 : June 13, 2013




Respondent Elpidio Rodriguez (Rodriguez) was previously employed as a bus conductor.He entered into an employment contract with Contact Tours Manpower(Contact Tours) and was assigned to work with petitioner bus company, ALPS Transportation.

During the course of his employment, Rodriguez was found to have committed irregularities. The latest irregularity report dated 26 January 2005 stated that he had collected bus fares without issuing corresponding tickets to passengers. The report was annotated with the word Terminate.

Rodriguez alleged that he was dismissed from his employment on 27 January 2005, or the day after the issuance of the last irregularity report. However, he did not receive any written notice of termination.He went back to the bus company a number of times, but it refused to readmit him.

Rodriguez filed before the labor arbiter a complaint for illegal dismissal, nonpayment of 13th month pay, and damages against ALPS Transportation and Alfredo Perez, the proprietor of petitioner bus company.

In response to the complaint, petitioners stated that they did not have any prerogative to dismiss Rodriguez, as he was not their employee, but that of Contact Tours.

On 12 January 2006, the labor arbiter dismissed the illegal dismissal complaint for lack of merit.He explained that no evidence had been adduced to support the contention of Rodriguez.

NLRC set aside the decision of the labor arbiter and entered a new one directing respondents to reinstate the complainant without loss of seniority rights and privileges without backwages. In so concluding, the NLRC ruled that Contact Tours was a labor-only contractor.

As regards the claim of illegal dismissal, the NLRC found that Rodriguez failed to prove that his services were illegally terminated by petitioners. However, the bus company likewise failed to prove that he had abandoned his work. Thus, citing previous rulings of this Court, the NLRC held that in case the parties fail to prove either abandonment or termination, the employer should order the employee to report back for work, accept the latter, and reinstate the employee to the latters former position. However, an award for backwages is not warranted, as the parties must bear the burden of their own loss.

Dissatisfied, Rodriguez filed a Rule 65 Petition for Certiorari with the CA.

The appellate court ruled that, in termination cases, it is the employer who bears the burden of proving that the employee was not illegally dismissed.Here, the CA found that ALPS Transportation failed to present convincing evidence that Rodriguez had indeed collected bus fares without issuing corresponding tickets to passengers.

Moreover, the CA gave no credence to ALPS Transportations argument that Rodriguez had not yet been terminated when he filed the illegal dismissal complaint, as he had not yet received any notice of termination.The appellate court explained that, before the illegal dismissal complaint was filed, more than six months had lapsed since respondent was last given a bus assignment by ALPS Transportation.

The CA then ordered ALPS Transportation to reinstate Rodriguez and to pay him full backwages.

Aggrieved by the appellate courts decision, petitioners filed the instant Rule 45 Petition before this Court.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent Rodriguez was validly dismissed

HELD: Court of Appeals decision is hereby affirmed.


We uphold the assailed Decision and Resolution and rule that respondent Rodriguez has been illegally dismissed.

For a dismissal to be valid, the rule is that the employer must comply with both substantive and procedural due process requirements.Substantive due process requires that the dismissal must be pursuant to either a just or an authorized cause under Articles 282, 283 or 284 of the Labor Code. Procedural due process, on the other hand, mandates that the employer must observe the twin requirements of notice and hearing before a dismissal can be effected.

We find for respondent and rule that the employer failed to prove that the dismissal was due to a just cause.

The nature of work of a bus conductor involves inherent or normal occupational risks of incurring money shortages and uncollected fares. An accusation that is not substantiated will not ripen into a holding that there is just cause for dismissal. A mere accusation of wrongdoing or a mere pronouncement of lack of confidence is not sufficient cause for a valid dismissal of an employee. Jurisprudence dictates that if doubt exists between the evidence presented by the employer and the employee, the scales of justice must be tilted in favor of the latter.

LABOR LAW: Remedies of illegally dismissed employees

An illegally dismissed employee is entitled to the twin remedies of reinstatement and payment of full backwages. InSantos v. National Labor Relations Commission,we explained:

The normal consequences of a finding that an employee has been illegally dismissed are, firstly, that the employee becomes entitled to reinstatement to his former position without loss of seniority rights and, secondly, the payment of backwages corresponding to the period from his illegal dismissal up to actual reinstatement. Reinstatement restores the employee who was unjustly dismissed to the position from which he was removed, while the grant of backwages allows the same employee to recover from the employer that which he had lost by way of wages as a result of his dismissal.

Thus, the CA committed no reversible error in upholding the NLRCs order to reinstate Rodriguez and in directing the payment of his full backwages, from the time he was illegally dismissed until his actual reinstatement.


The presumption is that a contractor is a labor-only contractor unless he overcomes the burden of proving that it has substantial capital, investment, tools, and the like.While ALPS Transportation is not the contractor itself, since it is invoking Contact Tours status as a legitimate job contractor in order to avoid liability, it bears the burden of proving that Contact Tours is an independent contractor.

However, aside from making bare assertions and offering theKasunduanbetween Rodriguez and Contact Tours in evidence,ALPS Transportation has failed to present any proof to substantiate the formers status as a legitimate job contractor.

Thus, the ALPS Transportation is responsible to Contact Tours employees in the same manner and to the same extent as if they were directly employed by the bus company.

Since ALPS Transportation is a sole proprietorship owned by petitioner Alfredo Perez, it is he who must be held liable for the payment of backwages to Rodriguez.A sole proprietorship does not possess a juridical personality separate and distinct from that of the owner of the enterprise.Thus, the owner has unlimited personal liability for all the debts and obligations of the business, and it is against him that a decision for illegal dismissal is to be enforced.