CASE DIGEST: College of Immaculate Conception v. NLRC (G.R. No. 167563; March 22, 2010)
CASE DIGEST: COLLEGE OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, Petitioner, v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION and ATTY. MARIUS F. CARLOS, PH.D., Respondents. G.R. No. 167563; March 22, 2010.
FACTS: Petitioner, through its President, appointed respondent as its acting dean effective from June 1996- May 2000, with an understanding that upon expiration of his term, he shall be appointed as a full time professor without diminution of his teaching salary as Dean.
After the expiration of his term, respondent requested for the payment of overload pay, arguing that the regular full time load of a faculty member is only six and he had 8. Petitioner however denied the claim and directed to explain why no disciplinary action should be taken against him for engaging in the practice of law and teaching law in another law school without prior permission from the petitioner.
Respondent admitted that he was teaching at Araullo University without written permission because it was unnecessary. As to his law practice, he explained that the only case he was handling was a petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage, which was referred to him by petitioner's Vice-President for Academic Affairs. Respondent said that his demotion from Dean of the Department to a Faculty member was without legal basis and that the non-renewal of his appointment as Dean was arbitrary, capricious, unlawful, tainted with abuse of discretion, and injurious to his integrity and reputation.
Petitioner refused to accept the explanation and gave respondent two options: to become a full-time professor or a part time professor. Since respondent did not choose any, petitioner informed respondent that he will not be assigned any teaching load for the succeeding semester pursuant to Section 16.8, CHED Memorandum No. 19, series of 1998, which requires professors to give a formal notice when teaching in another school.
Aggrieved, respondent filed a case for illegal dismissal. The LA ruled that respondent was illegally dismissed and ordered his reinstatement. On appeal to the NLRC, the decision was set aside but the NLRC ordered to reinstate complainant as full-time professor. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration arguing that respondent should be directed to refund the petitioner all the amounts he received by way of payroll reinstatement but the same was denied. Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari to the CA but the same was also denied. Upon denial of its motion for reconsideration, the instant petition is filed to the SC.
ISSUE: Would the reversal of the LA's decision require respondent to reimburse petitioner all the salaries and benefits he received pursuant to the immediate execution of the LA's erroneous decision?
HELD: Even if the order of reinstatement of the Labor Arbiter is reversed on appeal, it is obligatory on the part of the employer to reinstate and pay the wages of the dismissed employee during the period of appeal until reversal by the higher court.
It was held in Air Philippines Corporation v. Zamora, citing Roquero v. Philippine Airlines, Inc., that:
Even if the order of reinstatement of the Labor Arbiter is reversed on appeal, it is obligatory on the part of the employer to reinstate and pay the wages of the dismissed employee during the period of appeal until reversal by the higher court. On the other hand, if the employee has been reinstated during the appeal period and such reinstatement order is reversed with finality, the employee is not required to reimburse whatever salary he received for he is entitled to such, more so if he actually rendered services during the period.
It is not disputed at this point that the LA erred in ordering respondent's reinstatement as Dean. The NLRC ruled that respondent should have been merely reinstated as a full-time law professor, because the term of his appointment as Dean had long expired. However, such mistake on the part of the LA cannot, in any way, alter the fact that during the pendency of the appeal of his decision, his order for respondent's reinstatement as Dean was immediately executory. Article 223 of the Labor Code provides that: In any event, the decision of the Labor Arbiter reinstating a dismissed or separated employee, insofar as the reinstatement aspect is concerned, shall immediately be executory, even pending appeal. The employee shall either be admitted back to work under the same terms and conditions prevailing prior to his dismissal or separation or, at the option of the employer, merely reinstated in the payroll. The posting of a bond by the employer shall not stay the execution for reinstatement provided therein.
Moreover, it bears stressing that the manner of immediate reinstatement, pending appeal, or the promptness thereof is immaterial, as illustrated in the following two scenarios:
Situation No. 1. (As in the cases of Air Philippines Corporation and International Container Terminal Services, Inc.) The LA ruled in favor of the dismissed employee and ordered his reinstatement. However, the employer did not immediately comply with the LA's directive. On appeal, the NLRC reversed the LA and found that there was no illegal dismissal. In this scenario, We ruled that the employee is entitled to payment of his salaries and allowances pending appeal.
Situation No. 2. (As in the present case) The LA ruled in favor of the dismissed employee and ordered the latter's reinstatement. This time, the employer complied by reinstating the employee in the payroll. On appeal, the LA's ruling was reversed, finding that there was no case of illegal dismissal but merely a temporary sanction, akin to a suspension. Here, We also must rule that the employee cannot be required to reimburse the salaries he received because if he was not reinstated in the payroll in the first place, the ruling in situation no. 1 will apply, i.e., the employee is entitled to payment of his salaries and allowances pending appeal.
Thus, either way we look at it, at the end of the day, the employee gets his salaries and allowances pending appeal. The only difference lies as to the time when the employee gets it. DENIED.
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