Case Digest: Canadian Opportunities v. Dalangin

G.R. No. 172223: February 6, 2012




Dalangin was hired by the company in October 2001, as Immigration and Legal Manager, with a monthly salary of P15,000.00. He was placed on probation for six months. He was to report directly to the Chief Operations Officer, Annie Llamanzares Abad. His tasks involved principally the review of the clients applications for immigration to Canada to ensure that they are in accordance with Canadian and Philippine laws.

Through a memorandum signed by Abad, the company terminated Dalangins employment, declaring him "unfit" and "unqualified" to continue as Immigration and Legal Manager. The following are the reasons for Dalangins termination: Obstinacy and utter disregard of company policies, Lack of concern for the company's interest despite having just been employed in the company, lack of enthusiasm toward work, and lack of interest in fostering relationship with his co-employees.

Labor Arbiter Eduardo G. Magno declared Dalangins dismissal illegal. On appeal, the NLRC reversed the LA decision. Dalangin moved for reconsideration, but the NLRC denied the motion, prompting him to go to the CA on a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

In its decision, the CA reversed the NLRC ruling. As the labor arbiter did, the CA found that the company failed to support, with substantial evidence, its claim that Dalangin failed to meet the standards to qualify as a regular employee.

The CA denied the company's subsequent motion for reconsideration in its. Hence, this appeal.

ISSUE: Whether or not Dalangin was validly dismissed


Labor Law

In International Catholic Migration Commission v. NLRC, the Court explained that a probationary employee, as understood under Article 281 of the Labor Code, is one who is on trial by an employer, during which, the latter determines whether or not he is qualified for permanent employment. A probationary appointment gives the employer an opportunity to observe the fitness of a probationer while at work, and to ascertain whether he would be a proper and efficient employee.

Dalangin was barely a month on the job when the company terminated his employment. He was found wanting in qualities that would make him a "proper and efficient" employee or, as the company put it, he was unfit and unqualified to continue as its Immigration and Legal Manager.

The CA did not believe that the company could fully assess Dalangins performance within a month. It viewed Dalangins dismissal as arbitrary, considering that the company had very little time to determine his fitness for the job.

Contrary to the CAs conclusions, we find substantial evidence indicating that the company was justified in terminating Dalangins employment, however brief it had been. Time and again, we have emphasized that substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.

Dalangin overlooks the fact, wittingly or unwittingly, that he offered glimpses of his own behavior and actuations during his four-week stay with the company; he betrayed his negative attitude and regard for the company, his co-employees and his work.

Dalangin admitted in compulsory arbitration that the proximate cause for his dismissal was his refusal to attend the company's "Values Formation Seminar" scheduled for October 27, 2001, a Saturday. He refused to attend the seminar after he learned that it had no relation to his duties, as he claimed, and that he had to leave at 2:00 p.m. because he wanted to be with his family in the province.

When Abad insisted that he attend the seminar to encourage his co-employees to attend, he stood pat on not attending, arguing that marked differences exist between their positions and duties, and insinuating that he did not want to join the other employees. He also questioned the scheduled 2:00 p.m. seminars on Saturdays as they were not supposed to be doing a company activity beyond 2:00 p.m.

The "Values Formation Seminar" incident is an eye-opener on the kind of person and employee Dalangin was. The incident also reveals Dalangins lack of interest in establishing good working relationship with his co-employees, especially the rank and file; he did not want to join them because of his view that the seminar was not relevant to his position and duties.

Additionally, very early in his employment, Dalangin exhibited negative working habits, particularly with respect to the one hour lunch break policy of the company and the observance of the companys working hours.

However, since the company failed to observe the required due process in terminating probationary employees, Dalangin is entitled to nominal damages.