Case Digest: Galang v. Malasugui

G.R. No. 174173 : March 7, 2012

MA. MELISSA A. GALANG, Petitioner, v. JULIA MALASUGUI, Respondent.



Malasugui filed a complaint for illegal dismissal before the National Labor Relations Commission against Galang. Malasugui alleged that she was hired by Galang to take care, oversee and man the premises of the Davao Royal Garden Compound (Pangi Property) the main compound of Galang where the orchids and other ornamental plants used for the business were nursed and propagated. In November 1998, she became sick with severe cough and asked for financial assistance from Galang for medical check-up. The coughing became incessant which prompted Galang to bring her to a doctor and made to undergo a series of examinations including chest radiographic examination. Thereafter, she was terminated from work and barred from entering the Pangi property.

Galang, on the other hand, denied that Malasugui was her employee. When the family driver left the other bunkhouse, Malasugui occupied it and brought along her family as well.The Galang family tolerated this arrangement for around six years as an act of kindness. During these times, Malasugui did not look for any job as initially intended. They did not require Malasugui to pay for rentals, electricity, water and other utilities. In return, Malasugui helped in weeding, watering, spraying chemicals on the orchids in gratitude for the hospitality of the Galang family. Admittedly, Galang occasionally gave money to Malasugui out of charity. She even answered for the medical expenses of Malasugui when the latter became sick of excessive coughing early in 1999. She even made an arrangement with a radiologist for her diagnostic examination but Malasugui did not show up at the appointed time. When confronted by Galang about this, Malasugui packed her belongings and left the Pangi property. She was not asked nor forced to leave the premises by any member of the Galang family.

The Labor Arbiter ruled that there was an employer-employee relationship between Galang and Malasugui, however, it ruled that there was no substantial evidence that Malasugui was illegally dismissed and barred from entering the property after she, without any notice to her employer, packed her belongings and left the Pangi property. The NLRC affirmed the decision of the Labor Arbiter. The CA however ruled that respondent was illegally dismissed by Galang.


1. Whether or not Malasugui is an employee of Galang.

2. Whether or not Malasugui was constructively dismissed.

HELD: Court of Appeals decision is affirmed.


All three, Labor Arbiter, the NLRC and the CA ruled that there was an employer-employee relationship between Galang and Malasugui, therefore, there is no need to routinely undertake the re-examination of the evidence presented by the contending parties for the factual findings of the labor officials who have acquired expertise in their own fields are accorded respect and even finality if affirmed on appeal to the Court of Appeals.

Such principle cannot, however, apply to the finding of illegal dismissal against Galang. The Labor Arbiter and the NLRC both ruled that there was no illegal dismissal, but the Court of Appeals reversed such findings. When supported by substantial evidence, the findings of fact of the CA are conclusive and binding on the parties and are not reviewable by this Court, unless the case falls under any of the following recognized exceptions:
(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises and conjectures;

(2) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;

(3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion;

(4) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts;

(5) When the findings of fact are conflicting;

(6) When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee;

(7) When the findings are contrary to those of the trial court [in this case the administrative bodies of Labor Arbiter and NLRC];

(8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based;

(9) When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners' main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondents; and

(10) When the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record.
Jurisprudence provides that the burden of proof to show that the dismissal was for a just cause is on the employer.

Respondent has been in the employ of petitioner for six years when the alleged abandonment happened. Being scolded, if it were true, is hardly a reason for a gardener of six years to just pack up and leave the work premises where she was even allowed to reside, at a time when she was ill and needed medical attention. Indeed, the alleged scolding is itself incredible. The given reason was that respondent failed to show up at her arranged appointment with the radiologist. It is hard to believe that a sick gardener, certainly of minimal means, would refuse the offer of medical services. In fact, the basic allegation in respondents complaint for illegal dismissal was that petitioners treatment to her became sour especially when she requested that she be examined by a doctor for her cough. And, completely belying the petitioners assertion that respondent failed to show up at the appointed time with the radiologist are two certificates issued by Radiologist Susan R. Gaspar stating that on 30 January 1999 and on 1 February 1999 respondent had her chest x-ray taken at the Radiology Section of the Polyclinic Davao.

The overt act relied upon by petitioner is not only a doubtful occurrence but is, if it did transpire, even consistent with the dismissal from employment posited by the respondent. The factual appraisal of the Court of Appeals is correct. Petitioner was displeased after incurring expenses for respondents medical check-up and, it is credible that, thereafter, respondent was prevented entry into the work premises. This is tantamount to constructive dismissal.

Constructive dismissalexists where there is cessation of work because continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely, as an offer involving a demotion in rank and a diminution in pay. Constructive dismissal is a dismissal in disguise or an act amounting to dismissal but made to appear as if it were not.