G.R. No. 174158: June 27, 2011




On November 11, 1991, petitioner was employed as an Instructor inDataCenterCollegeLaoagCitybranch in Ilocos Norte.In a Memorandumdated June 6, 1992, respondents transferred him to University of Northern Philippines (UNP) in Vigan, Ilocos Sur where the school had a tie-up program.Petitioner was informed through a letterdated June 6, 1992 that he would be receiving, in addition to his monthly salary, aP1,200.00 allowance for board and lodging during his stint as instructor in UNP-Vigan.In 1994, he was recalled to Laoag campus. On October 3, 2003, petitioner received a Memorandumtransferring him to Data Center College Bangued, Abra branch as Head for Education/Instructor due to an urgent need for an experienced officer and computer instructor thereat.

However, petitioner declined to accept his transfer to Abra citing the deteriorating health condition of his father and the absence of additional remuneration to defray expenses for board and lodging which constitutes implicit diminution of his salary.

On November 10, 2003, petitioner filed a Complaint for constructive dismissal against respondents.Petitioner alleged that his proposed transfer to Abra constitutes a demotion in rank and diminution in pay and would cause personal inconvenience and hardship.He argued that although he was being transferred to Abra branch supposedly with the same position he was then holding in Laoag branch as Head for Education, he later learned through a Memorandum from the administrator of Abra branch that he will be re-assigned merely as an instructor, thereby relegating him from an administrative officer to a rank-and-file employee.Moreover, the elimination of his allowance for board and lodging will result to an indirect reduction of his salary which is prohibited by labor laws.Petitioner also claimed that when he questioned the indefinite suspension of the scholarship for post-graduate studies extended to him by respondents,the latter became indifferent to his legitimate grievances which eventually led to his prejudicial re-assignment.He averred that his transfer is not indispensable to the schools operation considering that respondents even suggested that he take an indefinite leave of absence in the meantime if only to address his personal difficulties.Petitioner thus prayed for his reinstatement and backwages.Further, as Head for Education at Data Center College Laoag branch, petitioner asked for the payment of an overload honorarium as compensation for the additional teaching load in excess of what should have been prescribed to him.Exemplary damages and attorneys fees were likewise prayed for.

For their part, respondents claimed that they were merely exercising their management prerogative to transfer employees for the purpose of advancing the schools interests.They argued that petitioners refusal to be transferred to Abra constitutes insubordination. They claimed that petitioners appointment as instructor carries a proviso of possible re-assignments to any branch or tie-up schools as the schools necessity demands.Respondents argued that petitioners designation as Head for Education in Laoag branch was merely temporary and that he would still occupy his original plantilla item as instructor at his proposed assignment in Abra branch.Respondents denied liability to petitioners monetary claims.

ISSUE: Whether petitioners transfer to Abra constituted constructive dismissal.


LABOR LAW: Labor Relations, Constructive Dismissal

Constructive dismissal is quitting because continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely, or because of a demotion in rank or a diminution of pay.It exists when there is a clear act of discrimination, insensibility or disdain by an employer which becomes unbearable for the employee to continue his employment.[32]Petitioner alleges that the real purpose of his transfer is to demote him to the rank of an instructor from being the Head for Education performing administrative functions.Petitioner further argues that his re-assignment will entail an indirect reduction of his salary or diminution of pay considering that no additional allowance will be given to cover for board and lodging expenses.He claims that such additional allowance was given in the past and therefore cannot be discontinued and withdrawn without violating the prohibition against non-diminution of benefits.

These allegations are bereft of merit.

Petitioner was originally appointed as instructor in 1991 and was given additional administrative functions as Head for Education during his stint in Laoag branch.He did not deny having been designated as Head for Education in a temporary capacity for which he cannot invoke any tenurial security.Hence, being temporary in character, such designation is terminable at the pleasure of respondents who made such appointment. Moreover, respondents right to transfer petitioner rests not only on contractual stipulation but also on jurisprudential authorities.The Labor Arbiter and the NLRC both relied on the condition laid down in petitioners employment contract that respondents have the prerogative to assign petitioner in any of its branches or tie-up schools as the necessity demands.In any event, it is management prerogative for employers to transfer employees on just and valid grounds such as genuine business necessity. It is also important to stress at this point that respondents have shown that it was experiencing some financial constraints.Because of this, respondents opted to temporarily suspend the post-graduate studies of petitioner and some other employees who were given scholarship grants in order to prioritize more important expenditures.

Indeed, we cannot fully subscribe to petitioners contention that his re-assignment was tainted with bad faith.As a matter of fact, respondents displayed commiseration over the health condition of petitioners father when they suggested that he take an indefinite leave of absence to attend to this personal difficulty.Also, during the time when respondents directed all its administrative officers to submit courtesy resignations, petitioners letter of resignation was not accepted.This bolsters the fact that respondents never intended to get rid of petitioner.In fine, petitioners assertions of bad faith on the part of respondents are purely unsubstantiated conjectures.