Case Digest: Concepcion v. Minex

G.R. No. 153569 : January 24, 2012

LOLITA S. CONCEPCION, Petitioner, v. MINEX IMPORT CORPORATION/MINERAMA CORPORATION, KENNETH MEYERS, SYLVIA P. MARIANO, and VINA MARIANO, Respondents.

BERSAMIN,J.:

FACTS:


Respondent Minex Import-Export Corporation (Minex) employed the petitioner initially as a salesgirl,rotating her assignment among nearly all its outlets. Respondent Vina Mariano, an Assistant Manager of Minex, assigned the petitioner to the SM Harrison Plaza kiosk with the instruction to hold the keys of the kiosk.

On November 9, 1997, the petitioner and her salesgirls conducted a cash-count of their sales proceeds and determined their total for the three days to beP50,912.00. At about 9:30 am of November 10, 1997, the petitioner phoned Vina Mariano to report that theP50,912.00 was missing.

Later, while the petitioner was giving a detailed statement on the theft to the security investigator of Harrison Plaza, Vina and Sylvia Mariano, her superiors, arrived with a policeman who immediately placed the petitioner under arrest and brought her to Precinct 9 of the Malate Police Station.

Petitioner complained against the respondents for illegal dismissal in the Department of Labor and Employment.

Minex, through Vina, filed a complaint for qualified theft against the petitioner in the Office of the City Prosecutor in Manila.

To the charge of qualified theft, the petitioner insisted on her innocence.

After the preliminary investigation, the Assistant Prosecutor rendered a resolution finding probable cause for qualified theft and recommending the filing of an information against the petitioner.Thus, she was charged with qualified theft.

The petitioner appealed by petition for review to the Department of Justice (DOJ), but the DOJ Secretary denied her petition for review.

As to the petitioners complaint for illegal dismissal, Labor Arbiter Jose G. de Vera rendered his decision in favor of the complainant.

On appeal by the respondents, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) reversed the decision of the Labor Arbiter, declaring that the petitioner had not been dismissed, but had abandoned her job after being found to have stolen the proceeds of the sales; and holding that even if she had been dismissed, her dismissal would be justifiable for loss of trust and confidence in the light of the finding of probable cause by the DOJ and the City Prosecutor and the filing of the information for qualified theft against her.

CA sustained the NLRC mainly because of the DOJ Secretarys finding of probable cause for qualified theft.

CA denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration.

ISSUE: Whether or not petitioners dismissal is illegal?

HELD: Court of Appeals decision is sustained.

LABOR LAW


To dismiss an employee, the law requires the existence of a just and valid cause. Article 282 of the Labor Codeenumerates thejustcauses for termination by the employer: (a) serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or the latters representative in connection with the employees work; (b) gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties; (c) fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or his duly authorized representative; (d) commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representative; and (e) other causes analogous to the foregoing.

InPhilippine Long Distance Telephone Co.(BLTB Co.) vs. NLRC,the Court held that the acquittal of the employee from the criminal prosecution for a crime committed against the interest of the employer did not automatically eliminate loss of confidence as a basis for administrative action against the employee; and that in cases where the acts of misconduct amounted to a crime, a dismissal might still be properly ordered notwithstanding that the employee was not criminally prosecuted or was acquitted after a criminal prosecution.

The fair and reasonable opportunity required to be given to the employee before dismissal encompassed not only the giving to the employee of notice of the cause and the ability of the employee to explain, but also the chance to defend against the accusation. This was our thrust in Philippine Pizza, Inc. v. Bungabong,where we held that the employee was not afforded due process despite the dismissal being upon a just cause, considering that he was not given a fair and reasonable opportunity to confront his accusers and to defend himself against the charge of theft notwithstanding his having submitted his explanation denying that he had stolen beer from the company dispenser. The termination letter was issued a day before the employee could go to the HRD Office for the investigation, which made it clear to him that the decision to terminate was already final even before he could submit his side and refute the charges against him. Nothing that he could say or do at that point would have changed the decision to dismiss him. Such omission to give the employee the benefit of a hearing and investigation before his termination constituted an infringement of his constitutional right to due process by the employer.

DENIED

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