Case Digest: Mansion Printing v. Bitara

G.R. No. 168120 : January 25, 2012




Petitioners engaged the services of respondent as a helper (kargador). Respondent was later promoted as the companys sole driver tasked to pick-up raw materials for the printing business, collect account receivables and deliver the products to the clients within the delivery schedules.

Petitioners aver that the timely delivery of the products to the clients is one of the foremost considerations material to the operation of the business.It being so, they closely monitored the attendance of respondent. They noted his habitual tardiness and absenteeism.

Thus, petitioners issued a Memorandumrequiring respondent to submit a written explanation why no administrative sanction should be imposed on him for his habitual tardiness.

Despite respondents undertaking to report on time, however, he continued to disregard attendance policies.

Consequently, Davis Cheng, General Manager of the company and son of petitioner Cheng, issued another Memorandum(Notice to Explain) requiring respondent to explain why his services should not be terminated. He personally handed the Notice to Explain to respondent but the latter, after reading the directive, refused to acknowledge receipt thereof.He did not submit any explanation and, thereafter, never reported for work.

Davis Cheng personally served another Memorandum(Notice of Termination) upon him informing him that the company found him grossly negligent of his duties, for which reason, his services were terminated.

On even date, respondent met with the management requesting for reconsideration of his termination from the service. However, after hearing his position, the management decided to implement the Memorandum. Nevertheless, the management, out of generosity, offered respondent financial assistance in the amount ofP6,110.00 equivalent to his one month salary. Respondent demanded that he be given the amount equivalent to two (2) months salary but the management declined as it believed it would, in effect, reward respondent for being negligent of his duties.

Respondent filed a complaintfor illegal dismissal against the petitioners before the Labor Arbiter.

Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint for lack of merit.

On appeal to the National Labor Relations Commission, the findings of the Labor Arbiter was AFFIRMEDen toto.

Before the Court of Appeals, respondent sought the annulment of the Commissions Resolution on the ground that they were rendered with grave abuse of discretion and/or without or in excess of jurisdiction.

The Court of Appeals found for the respondent and reversed the findings of the Commission.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent is illegally dismissed?

HELD: NLRC's decision is reinstated.


In order to validly dismiss an employee, the employer is required to observe both substantive and procedural aspects the termination of employment must be based on a just or authorized cause of dismissal and the dismissal must be effected after due notice and hearing.

We, therefore, agree with the Labor Arbiters findings, to wit:

The imputed absence and tardiness of the complainant are documented. He faltered on his attendance 38 times of the 66 working days. His last absences on 11, 13, 14, 15 and 16 March 2000 were undertaken without even notice/permission from management. These attendance delinquencies may be characterized as habitual and are sufficient justifications to terminate the complainants employment.

On this score,Valiao v. Court of Appealsis instructive:

xxx It bears stressing that petitioners absences and tardiness were not isolated incidents but manifested a pattern of habituality. xxx The totality of infractions or the number of violations committed during the period of employment shall be considered in determining the penalty to be imposed upon an erring employee. The offenses committed by him should not be taken singly and separately but in their totality. Fitness for continued employment cannot be compartmentalized into tight little cubicles of aspects of character, conduct, and ability separate and independent of each other.

InValiao,we definedgross negligenceas want of care in the performance of ones dutiesandhabitual neglectas repeated failure to perform ones duties for a period of time, depending upon the circumstances.51 These are not overly technical terms, which, in the first place, are expressly sanctioned by the Labor Code of the Philippines, to wit:
ART. 282.Termination by employer.- An employer may terminate an employment for any of the following causes:
(a) xxx
(b)Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties;
Clearly, even in the absence of a written company rule defining gross and habitual neglect of duties, respondents omissions qualify as such warranting his dismissal from the service.

We cannot simply tolerate injustice to employers if only to protect the welfare of undeserving employees. As aptly put by then Associate Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing:

Needless to say, so irresponsible an employee like petitioner does not deserve a place in the workplace, and it is within the managements prerogative xxx to terminate his employment. Even as the law is solicitous of the welfare of employees, it must also protect the rights of an employer to exercise what are clearly management prerogatives. As long as the companys exercise of those rights and prerogative is in good faith to advance its interest and not for the purpose of defeating or circumventing the rights of employees under the laws or valid agreements, such exercise will be upheld.

Procedural due process entails compliance with the two-notice rule in dismissing an employee, to wit: (1) the employer must inform the employee of the specific acts or omissions for which his dismissal is sought; and (2) after the employee has been given the opportunity to be heard, the employer must inform him of the decision to terminate his employment.