CASE DIGEST: Alvarez v. Golden Tri Bloc

G.R. No. 202158 : September 25, 2013




Petitioner was an Outlet Supervisor and was assigned to 3 Dunkin Donuts outlets located at San Roque, Cogeo and Super 8, Masinag, all in Antipolo City.

The petitioner reported for duty at around 12:30 in the afternoon at Dunkin Donuts, Super 8, Masinag branch. Since his timecard was at the San Roque branch, he telephoned ChastineKaye Sambo, shift leader, and requested her to "punch-in" his time card to reflect that he is already on duty. She obliged. Roland Salindog, the petitioners senior officer called the Super 8, Masinag branch and verified that he has indeed reported for work.

The following day, however, the petitioner was informed by Sambo that both of them are suspended and that he had to prepare an incident report regarding his time card.

In his incident report he owned up to his fault and stated that he should have instead recorded the time of his arrival by writing on the time card and that he should have brought it with him. He apologized and promised that a similar incident will not happen again. After the dialogue, petitioner was placed on preventive suspension for 30 days without pay and thereafter terminated his employment on the ground of loss of trust.

Petitioner filed a complaint for illegal dismissal with claims for sick leave pay, separation pay and moral and exemplary damages before the Labor Arbiter.

In his Position Paper, the petitioner averred that in his 12 years of service with the company, he was never subjected to any disciplinary action. He argued that the ground relied upon for his termination is not applicable to him because he is a supervisor and not a managerial employee. He is not entrusted with the companys money or property and that his duties pertained to the preparation and submission of daily and monthly reports and organization of manpower schedules. Even assuming that the ground applies to him, it still does not validate his termination because the alleged offense is not related to his work duties.

GTBI maintained that it had justifiable reason to lose trust in and dismiss the petitioner for having committed a dishonest act punishable under the companys Code of Conduct and Disciplinewith termination from employment.

The LA found the petitioner to have been illegally dismissed. The offense of dishonesty stated in GTBIs Code of Conduct and Discipline imply a conscious and deliberate wrongful intent to defraud, which is not present in that ascribed to the petitioner. The LA conferred great weight to his length of service for 12 years with GTBI and his unblemished record and held that such considerations render dismissal a disproportionate and harsh penalty to the mistake he committed.

The NLRC reversed the decision of the LA after GTBI submitted records of infractions committed by the petitioner before the incident in issue, such as tardiness, negligence resulting in disruption of business operations, product shortages and inconsistencies in his inventory and dishonesty for causing a co-employee to punch-in his timecard for which he was suspended for 45 days instead of dismissal. Hence, it gave credence to records of the petitioners previous infractions and based thereon, found his dismissal valid.

The NLRC applied the "totality rule" which states that : "the totality of infractions or number of violations committed during the period of employment shall be considered in determining the penalty to be imposed on the erring employee. The offenses committed by him should not be taken singly and separately but in their totality. Fitness for continued employment cannot be compartmentalized into tight little cubicles of aspects of character, conduct and ability separate and independent of each other."

On appeal, the CA upheld the NLRCs conclusion.

Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE: Whether or not the CA erred in upholding the evidence belatedly submitted by GTBI and in ruling that the petitioner committed serious misconduct despite the absence of a wrongful intent in the transgression that led to his dismissal.

HELD: The decision of the Court of Appeals is sustained.

LABOR LAW totality rule

The analogous factual findings of the CA and the NLRC conform to the foregoing guidelines. The punching of time card is undoubtedly work related. It signifies and records the commencement of ones work for the day. It is from that moment that an employee dons the cape of duties and responsibilities attached to his position in the workplace. It is the reckoning point of the employers corresponding obligation to him to pay his salary and provide his occupational and welfare protection or benefits. Any form of dishonesty with respect to time cards is thus no trivial matter especially when it is carried out by a supervisory employee like the petitioner.

The transgression imputed to the petitioner was likewise attended with willfulness. It must be noted that the petitioner misled the labor tribunals in claiming that during his entire 12-year stint with GTBI, he was never meted with any disciplinary action. Records, however, disprove such claim. Additional evidence were submitted by GTBI before the NLRC on appealand as correctly ruled by the CA, the same may be allowed as the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity are not controlling in labor proceedings.Mcdonalds (Katipunan Branch) v. Alba, G.R. No.156382, December 18, 2008.

In Merin v. MRC, G.R. No. 171790, October 17, 2008,the Court rules that in determining the sanction imposable to an employee, the employer may consider and weight his other past infractions, thus.

The totality of infractions or the number of violations committed during the period of employment shall be considered in determining the penalty to be imposed upon an erring employee. The offenses committed by petitioner should not be taken singly and separately. Fitness for continued employment cannot be compartmentalized into tight little cubicles of aspects of character, conduct and ability separate and independent of each other. While it may be true that petitioner was penalized for his previous infractions, this does not and should not mean that his employment record would be wiped clean of his infractions. After all, the record of an employee is a relevant consideration in determining the penalty that should be meted out since an employee's past misconduct and present behavior must be taken together in determining the proper imposable penalty. Despite the sanctions imposed upon petitioner, he continued to commit misconduct and exhibit undesirable behavior onboard. Indeed, the employer cannot be compelled to retain a misbehaving employee, or one who is guilty of acts inimical to its interests. It has the right to dismiss such an employee if only as a measure of self-protection.