Case Digest: Best Wear v. De Lemos

G.R. No. 191281 : December 5, 2012




Respondents Adelaida De Lemos and Cecile Ocubillo were employees of Best Wear Garments (Best Wear) owned by Warren Pardilla. In 2004, De Lemos and Ocubillo filed a case for illegal dismissal. Both alleged that they were arbitrarily transferred to other areas of operation of Pardilla’s garments company, which they said amounted to constructive dismissal as it resulted in less earnings for them. They also claimed that the reason for their transfer is their refusal to render overtime work until 7:00 p.m.

Best wear countered that De Lemos and Ocubillo are piece-rate workers and hence they are not paid according to the number of hours worked. Best Wear also averred that the two were not illegally terminated; rather, they were the ones who resigned.

The Labor Arbiter ruled that De Lemos and Ocubillo were constructively dismissed from employment. On appeal, the NLRC found no basis for the charge of constructive dismissal. Aggrieved, De Lemos and Ocubillo appealed to the Court of Appeals. The CA reinstated the LA’s decision. Hence, this instant petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that De Lemos and Ocubillo were constructively dismissed?

HELD: De Lemos and Ocubillo were not constructively dismissed.

LABOR LAW: transfer; management prerogative; piece-rate workers

The right of employees to security of tenure does not give them vested rights to their positions to the extent of depriving management of its prerogative to change their assignments or to transfer them. Thus, an employer may transfer or assign employees from one office or area of operation to another, provided there is no demotion in rank or diminution of salary, benefits, and other privileges, and the action is not motivated by discrimination, made in bad faith, or effected as a form of punishment or demotion without sufficient cause.

Being piece-rate workers assigned to individual sewing machines, their earnings depended on the quality and quantity of finished products. That their work output might have been affected by the change in their specific work assignments does not necessarily imply that any resulting reduction in pay is tantamount to constructive dismissal. Workers under piece-rate employment have no fixed salaries and their compensation is computed on the basis of accomplished tasks. The constitutional policy of providing full protection to labor is not intended to oppress or destroy management. While the Constitution is committed to the policy of social justice and the protection of the working class, it should not be supposed that every labor dispute will be automatically decided in favor of labor. Management also has its rights which are entitled to respect and enforcement in the interest of simple fair play. Thus, where management prerogative to transfer employees is validly exercised, as in this case, courts will decline to interfere.

Petition is GRANTED.

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