CASE DIGEST: Gemina v. Bankwise

G.R. No. 175365 : OCTOBER 23, 2013 | CANDIDO S. GEMINA, JR., Petitioner, v. BANKWISE, INC. (Thrift Bank), LAZARO LL. MADARA, PERFECTO M. PASCUA and OSMENIO R. GALAPATE, Respondents. REYES, J.:

FACTS: On August 9, 2002, petitioner Candido S. Gemina, Jr. (Gemina) signed an employment contract with respondent Bankwise, Inc. (Bankwise) as Marketing Officer with the rank of Senior Manager, with an annual salary of P750,000.00 based on a fifteen-month scheme or P50,000.00 per month and a service vehicle for his field work.The same contract stipulated for a fund level commitment of P100,000,000.00 for the first six months of employment.Gemina alleged that during his first 3 months at work, he had a satisfactory performance and was able to bring in new and former clients to Bankwise. However, when Bankwise was embroiled in a controversy involving the deposits of Foreign Retirees Association, he started to experience difficulty in soliciting new depositors. He suggested innovations in Bankwise marketing strategies to his immediate superiors, respondents Perfecto Pascua (Pascua) and Osmenio Galapate (Galapate), who then worked out promotional schemes without his participation.The schemes, however, failed to materialize and he was blamed for the failure.Thereafter, he was subjected to several forms of harassment by some officers of Bankwise by forcing him to file an indefinite leave of absence, demanding for the return of his service vehicle and intentionally delaying the release of his salaries and allowances.

The acts of harassment became intolerable, Gemina went on leave for 11 days. Upon his return to work, however, his salary for the period of his leave was withheld and was released only after he confronted Pascua and Galapate on the matter. His salary for the payroll of February 1 to 15, 2003 was again withheld and was released only on March 23, 2003, but only half of the amount he was entitled to, or P12,411.67 instead of P25,000.00. Bankwise wrote a letter to Gemina, directing him to turn over the service vehicle provided to him by the company.

February 19, 2003, Gemina filed a complaint for constructive dismissal against Bankwise. The Labor Arbiter (LA) held that Gemina was illegally dismissed. The NLRC held that Gemina was not constructively dismissed but rather abandoned his employment. The CA denied the petition for certiorari filed by Gemina and then denied the motion for reconsideration filed.

ISSUE: Whether or not Gemina was constructively dismissed?

HELD: There was no constructive dismissal.

There is constructive dismissal when here is cessation of work, because ontinued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely, as an offer involving a demotion in rank or a diminution in payand other benefits.Aptly called a dismissal in disguise or an act amounting to dismissal but made to appear as if it were not, constructive dismissal may, likewise, exist if an act of clear discrimination, insensibility, or disdain by an employer becomes so unbearable on the part of the employee that it could foreclose any choice by him except to forego his continued employment./span>

As correctly held by the NLRC and the CA, Gemina claim of constructive dismissal is not supported by the facts of the case.Both tribunals ruled that the circumstances mentioned by Gemina do not partake of discriminatory acts calculated to force him to leave employment.The acts complained of merely pertain to the legitimate exercise of management prerogatives.

A close scrutiny of the facts of the case will bear out that Gemina indeed failed to state circumstances substantiating his claim of constructive dismissal.To begin with, he does not claim to have suffered a demotion in rank or diminution in pay or other benefits.What he claims is that he had been subjected to several acts of harassment by some of the officers of Bankwisebywayof(1)asking him to take a forced leave of absence, (2) demanding for the return of his service vehicle, and (3) delaying the release of his salaries and allowances in order to compel him to quit employment.

Bankwise was able to address the allegations of harassment hurled against its officers and offered a plausible justification for its actions. It explained that the delay in the release of Gemina salary was not intentional.It pointed out that Gemina went on leave for eleven (11) days from January 17 to 31, 2003 and reported back to work only in February. Considering that he had only worked the company for less than six (6) months, the personnel department needed some time to compute his salary, taking into account his accrued leave credits and assessing if the same is enough to cover the number of days he went on leave.After determining that Gemina leave of absence can be charged to his accrued leave credits, his salary was immediately credited to his account.As regards the delay in the release of his salary for February 1 to 15, 2003, it was shown that Gemina incurred absences without leave within the said payroll period and failed to submit his attendance record.The procedure for monitoring the attendance of employees on field work, like Gemina, requires the accomplishment of an attendance form, duly signed by the certifying officer and noted by their immediate supervisors. However, Gemina failed to submit his attendance report promptly, hence, the delay in the release of his salary.

The service vehicle was assigned to Gemina in order to facilitate his field work. However, in January 2003, he went on official leave for almost two (2) weeks, thereby stalling his field work.Thereafter, he incurred absences without leave in the first two (2) weeks of February 2003.Believing that the service vehicle was not being put to its intended use.

As regards Gemina's allegation that he was verbally being compelled to go on leave, enough it is to say that there was no evidence presented to prove the same. There was not a single letter or document that would corroborate his claim that he was being forced to quit employment. The petition for review on certiorari is DENIED.