Case Digest: Culili v. Eastern Telecommunications Ph, Hizon, et al.

G.R. No. 165381 : February 9, 2011

NELSON A. CULILI, Petitioner, v. EASTERN TELECOMMUNICATIONS PHILIPPINES, INC., SALVADOR HIZON (President and Chief Executive Officer), EMILIANO JURADO (Chairman of the Board), VIRGILIO GARCIA (Vice President) and STELLA GARCIA (Assistant Vice President), Respondents.

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:


FACTS:

Respondent Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. (ETPI) is a telecommunications company engaged mainly in the business of establishing commercial telecommunications systems and leasing of international datalines or circuits. The other respondents are its employees.

Petitioner Nelson A. Culili (Culili) was employed by ETPI as a Technician in its Field Operations Department. Culili was promoted to Senior Technician in the Customer Premises Equipment Management Unit of the Service Quality Department and his basic salary was increased.

In 1998, due to business troubles and losses, ETPI was compelled to implement a Right-Sizing Program which consisted of two phases. As part of the first phase, ETPI, on December 10, 1998, offered to its employees who had rendered at least fifteen years of service, the Special Retirement Program, which consisted of the option to voluntarily retire at an earlier age and a retirement package equivalent to two and a half (2½) months’ salary for every year of service.

After the successful implementation of the first phase of the Right-Sizing Program, ETPI, on March 1, 1999 proceeded with the second phase which necessitated the abolition, transfer and merger of a number of ETPI’s departments. As a result, Culili’s position was abolished due to redundancy.

Culili filed a complaint against ETPI and its officers for illegal dismissal, unfair labor practice, and money claims before the Labor Arbiter, who later on rendered a decision finding ETPI guilty of illegal dismissal and unfair labor practice. On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the Labor Arbiter’s decision but modified the amount of moral and exemplary damages awarded. Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals found that Culili’s position was validly abolished due to redundancy.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the CA acted in contravention of applicable law and jurisprudence when it reexamined the facts in this case and reversed the factual findings of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC in a special civil action for certiorari.

2. Whether or not the dismissal was valid.


HELD:

The petition lacks merit.

LABOR LAW: Redundancy


First Issue:

While it is true that factual findings made by quasi-judicial and administrative tribunals, if supported by substantial evidence, are accorded great respect and even finality by the courts, this general rule admits of exceptions. When there is a showing that a palpable and demonstrable mistake that needs rectification has been committed or when the factual findings were arrived at arbitrarily or in disregard of the evidence on record, these findings may be examined by the courts.

Second Issue:

An employee may be terminated for reasons involving measures taken by the employer due to business necessities under Article 283. One such reason is redundancy. There is redundancy when the service capability of the workforce is greater than what is reasonably required to meet the demands of the business enterprise. A position becomes redundant when it is rendered superfluous by any number of factors such as over-hiring of workers, decrease in volume of business, or dropping a particular product line or service activity previously manufactured or undertaken by the enterprise.

This Court also held that the following evidence may be proffered to substantiate redundancy: the new staffing pattern, feasibility studies/ proposal on the viability of the newly created positions, job description and the approval by the management of the restructuring. These are evidenced by the Right-Sizing Program implemented by the company.

Petition is DENIED.

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