Case Digest: Samasah-Nuwhrain v. Buenaventura & Hotel Enterprises

G.R. No. 164939 : June 06, 2011




Petitioner Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Hyatt-NUWHRAIN-APL is a duly registered union and the certified bargaining representative of the rank-and-file employees of Hyatt Regency Manila, a five-star hotel owned and operated by respondent Hotel Enterprises of the Philippines, Inc. Hyatt's General Manager, David C. Pacey, issued a Memorandum informing all hotel employees that hotel security have been instructed to conduct a thorough bag inspection and body frisking in every entrance and exit of the hotel. He enjoined employees to comply therewith.

Angelito Caragdag, a waiter at the hotel's Cafe Al Fresco restaurant and a director of the union, refused to be frisked by the security personnel.The incident was reported to the hotel's Human Resources Department (HRD), which issued a Memorandum to Caragdag requiring him to explain in writing within forty-eight (48) hours from notice why no disciplinary action should be taken against him.The following day, Caragdag again refused to be frisked by the security personnel.Thus, the HRD issued another Memorandum requiring him to explain.

The HRD imposed on Caragdag the penalty of reprimand for the incident, which was considered a first offense, and suspended him for three days for the February 6, 2001 incident, which was considered as a second offense. Both penalties were in accordance with the hotel's Code of Discipline.

Subsequently, when Mike Moral, the manager of Hyatt's Cafe Al Fresco and Caragdag's immediate superior, was about to counsel two staff members, Larry Lacambacal and Allan Alvaro, at the training room, Caragdag suddenly opened the door and yelled at the two with an enraged look.In a disturbing voice he said, "Ang titigas talaga ng ulo n'yo.Sinabi ko na sa inyo na huwag kayong makikipagusap sa management habang ongoing pa ang kaso!" (You are very stubborn. I told you not to speak to management while the case is ongoing!) Moral asked Caragdag what the problem was and informed him that he was simply talking to his staff. Moral also told Caragdag that he did not have the right to interrupt and intimidate him during his counseling session with his staff.

In a Memorandum issued on the same date, Moral held Caragdag liable for Offenses Subject to Disciplinary Action (OSDA) 3.01 of the hotel's Code of Discipline, i.e., "threatening, intimidating, coercing, and provoking to a fight your superior for reasons directly connected with his discharge of official duty." Thus, Caragdag was imposed the penalty of seven days suspension in accordance with the hotel's Code of Discipline.

Still later, on March 2, 2001, Caragdag committed another infraction.At 9:35 a.m. on the said date, Caragdag left his work assignment during official hours without prior permission from his Department Head.oral found Caragdag liable for violating OSDA 3.07, i.e., "leaving work assignment during official working hours without prior permission from the department head or immediate superior," and suspended him for three days.

On June 1, 2001, the hotel, through Atty. Juancho A. Baltazar, sent Caragdag a Notice of Dismissal.

Caragdag's dismissal was questioned by petitioner, and the dispute was referred to voluntary arbitration upon agreement of the parties. The Voluntary Arbitrator rendered a decision and ruled that the three separate suspensions of Mr. Caragdag are valid, his dismissal is legal and OSDA 4.32 of Hyatt's Code of Discipline is reasonable

ISSUE: Whether theCargdag is entitled to finacial assistance.


LABOR LAW: Willful disobedience, serious misconduct, dismissal

On the second issue, petitioner argues that Caragdag is entitled to financial assistance in the amount of P100,000 on humanitarian considerations.Petitioner stresses that Caragdag's infractions were due to his being a union officer and his acts did not show moral depravity. Petitioner also adds that, while it is true that the award of financial assistance is given only for dismissals due to causes specified under Articles 283 and 284 of the Labor Code, as amended, this Court has, by way of exception, allowed the grant of financial assistance to an employee dismissed for just causes based on equity.

Respondent on the other hand, asserts that the CA correctly deleted the award of financial assistance erroneously granted to Caragdag considering that he was found guilty of serious misconduct and other acts adversely reflecting on his moral character.Respondent stresses that Caragdag's willful defiance of the hotel's security policy, disrespect and intimidation of a superior, and unjustifiable desertion of his work assignment during working hours without permission, patently show his serious and gross misconduct as well as amoral character.

Again, petitioner's arguments lack merit.

The grant of separation pay or some other financial assistance to an employee dismissed for just causes is based on equity. In Phil. Long Distance Telephone Co.v. NLRC, we ruled that severance compensation, or whatever name it is called, on the ground of social justice shall be allowed only when the cause of the dismissal is other than serious misconduct or for causes which reflect adversely on the employee's moral character.

Here, Caragdag's dismissal was due to several instances of willful disobedience to the reasonable rules and regulations prescribed by his employer.he Voluntary Arbitrator pointed out that according to the hotel's Code of Discipline, an employee who commits three different acts of misconduct within a twelve (12)-month period commits serious misconduct.He stressed that Caragdag's infractions were not even spread in a period of twelve (12) months, but rather in a period of a little over a month.Records show the various violations of the hotel's rules and regulations were committed by Caragdag.He was suspended for violating the hotel policy on bag inspection and body frisking.He was likewise suspended for threatening and intimidating a superior while the latter was counseling his staff.He was again suspended for leaving his work assignment without permission.Evidently, Caragdag's acts constitute serious misconduct.

Caragdag's dismissal being due to serious misconduct, it follows that he should not be entitled to financial assistance.To rule otherwise would be to reward him for the grave misconduct he committed.We must emphasize that social justice is extended only to those who deserve its compassion.