Case Digest: Jao v. BCC Products

G.R. No. 163700 : April 18, 2012

CHARLIE JAO, Petitioner, v. BCC PRODUCTS SALES INC., and TERRANCE TY, Respondents.



Petitioner maintained that respondent BCC Product Sales Inc. (BCC) and its President, respondent Terrance Ty (Ty), employed him as comptroller starting from September 1995, to handle the financial aspect of BCCs business. On October 19, 1995, the security guards of BCC, acting upon the instruction of Ty, barred him from entering the premises of BCC where he then worked.

Petitioner attempted to report to work on different occasions but the same were frustrated because he continued to be barred from entering the premises of BCC. Hence, he filed a complaint for illegal dismissal, reinstatement with full backwages, non-payment of wages, damages and attorneys fees.

Respondents countered that petitioner was not their employee but the employee of Sobien Food Corporation (SFC), the major creditor and supplier of BCC; and that SFC had posted him as its comptroller in BCC to oversee BCCs finances and business operations and to look after SFCs interests or investments in BCC.

The LA dismissed the complaint for lack of employer employee relationship. NLRC reversed the LA decision. On appeal, the CA held that there was no employer- employee relationship existed between petitioner BCC and the private respondent. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not there is an employer- employee relationship

HELD: No. CA Decision Affirmed.

Labor Law

In determining the presence or absence of an employer-employee relationship, the Court has consistently looked for the following incidents, to wit: (a) the selection and engagement of the employee; (b) the payment of wages; (c) the power of dismissal; and (d) the employers power to control the employee on the means and methods by which the work is accomplished. The last element, the so-called control test, is the most important element.

Hereunder are some of the circumstances and incidents occurring while petitioner was supposedly employed by BCC that debunked his claim against respondents:

It can be deduced from the March 1996 affidavit of petitioner that respondents challenged his authority to deliver some 158 checks to SFC. Considering that he contested respondents challenge by pointing to the existing arrangements between BCC and SFC, it should be clear that respondents did not exercise the power of control over him, because he thereby acted for the benefit and in the interest of SFC more than of BCC.

In addition, petitioner presented no document setting forth the terms of his employment by BCC. The failure to present such agreement on terms of employment may be understandable and expected if he was a common or ordinary laborer who would not jeopardize his employment by demanding such document from the employer, but may not square well with his actual status as a highly educated professional.

Petitioners admission that he did not receive his salary for the three months of his employment by BCC, as his complaint for illegal dismissal and non-payment of wages and the criminal case for estafa he later filed against the respondents for non-payment of wages indicated, further raised grave doubts about his assertion of employment by BCC. If the assertion was true, we are puzzled how he could have remained in BCCs employ in that period of time despite not being paid the first salary ofP20,000.00/month. Moreover, his name did not appear in the payroll of BCC despite him having approved the payroll as comptroller.

Lastly, the confusion about the date of his alleged illegal dismissal provides another indicium of the insincerity of petitioners assertion of employment by BCC. In the petition for review on certiorari, he averred that he had been barred from entering the premises of BCC on October 19, 1995,and thus was illegally dismissed. Yet, his complaint for illegal dismissal stated that he had been illegally dismissed on December 12, 1995 when respondents security guards barred him from entering the premises of BCC, causing him to bring his complaint only on December 29, 1995, and after BCC had already filed the criminal complaint against him. The wide gap between October 19, 1995 and December 12, 1995 cannot be dismissed as a trivial inconsistency considering that the several incidents affecting the veracity of his assertion of employment by BCC earlier noted herein transpired in that interval.