Case Digest: Daabay v. Coca-Cola

G.R. No. 199890 : August 19, 2013




The records indicate that the employment of Daabay with Coca-Cola as Sales Logistics Checker was terminated by the company in June 2005, following receipt of information from one Cesar Sorin (Sorin) that Daabay was part of a conspiracy that allowed the pilferage of company property. A formal investigation on the matter ensued. Eventually, Coca-Cola served upon Daabay a Notice of Termination that cited pilferage, serious misconduct and loss of trust and confidence as grounds. At the time of his dismissal, Daabay had been a regular employee of Coca-Cola for eight years, and was receiving a monthly pay of P20,861.00, exclusive of other benefits.

The LA ruled that petitioner was illegally dismissed. NLRC reversed the decision, holding that Daabay's participation in the conspiracy was dulu established. However, NLRC ordered that the case be remanded to the LA for the computation of Daabay's retirement benefits.

Coca-Colas partial motion for reconsideration to assail the award of retirement benefits was denied by the NLRC in a Resolution. The NLRC explained that there was a need "to humanize the severe effects of dismissal"and "tilt the scales of justice in favor of labor as a measure of equity and compassionate social justice. The CA agreed with the Coca- cola that the award of retirement benefits has no basis. Daabay moved for reconsideration but the same was denied hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not Daabay may be entitled to retirement benefits despite his being dismissed legally.

HELD: No. CA decision affirmed.

Labor Law

Daabay was declared by the NLRC to have been lawfully dismissed by Coca-Cola on the grounds of serious misconduct, breach of trust and loss of confidence. The pronouncement in Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. NLRCon the issue of whether an employee who is dismissed for just cause may still claim retirement benefits equally applies to this case. The SC held in that case that

Private respondent was not separated from petitioners employ due to mandatory or optional retirement but, rather, by termination of employment for a just cause. Thus, any retirement pay provided by PALs "Special Retirement & Separation Program" dated February 15, 1988 or, in the absence or legal inadequacy thereof, by Article 287 of the Labor Code does not operate nor can be made to operate for the benefit of private respondent. Even private respondent's assertion that, at the time of her lawful dismissal, she was already qualified for retirement does not aid her case because the fact remains that private respondent was already terminated for cause thereby rendering nugatory any entitlement to mandatory or optional retirement pay that she might have previously possessed.

Being intended as a mere measure of equity and social justice, the NLRC's award was then akin to a financial assistance or separation pay that is granted to a dismissed employee notwithstanding the legality of his dismissal. Jurisprudence on such financial assistance and separation pay then equally apply to this case. The Court has ruled, time and again, that financial assistance, or whatever name it is called, as a measure of social justice is allowed only in instances where the employee is validly dismissed for causes other than serious misconduct or those reflecting on his moral character.

Separation pay shall be allowed as a measure of social justice only in those instances where the employee is validly dismissed for causes other than serious misconduct or those reflecting on his moral character. Where the reason for the valid dismissal is, for example, habitual intoxication or an offense involving moral turpitude, like theft or illicit sexual relations with a fellow worker, the employer may not be required to give the dismissed employee separation pay, or financial assistance, or whatever other name it is called, on the ground of social justice.

A contrary rule would, as the petitioner correctly argues, have the effect, of rewarding rather than punishing the erring employee for his offense. And we do not agree that the punishment is his dismissal only and that the separation pay has nothing to do with the wrong he has committed. Of course it has. Indeed, if the employee who steals from the company is granted separation pay even as he is validly dismissed, it is not unlikely that he will commit a similar offense in his next employment because he thinks he can expect a like leniency if he is again found out. This kind of misplaced compassion is not going to do labor in general any good as it will encourage the infiltration of its ranks by those who do not deserve the protection and concern of the Constitution. Clearly, considering that Daabay was dismissed on the grounds of serious misconduct, breach of trust and loss of confidence, the award based on equity was unwarranted