Case Digest: Sanden Aircon v. Rosales

G.R. No. 169260: March 23, 2011.

SANDEN AIRCON PHILIPPINES, ET AL., Petitioner, v. LORESSA P. ROSALES, Respondent.

DEL CASTILLO, J.:


FACTS:

Sanden employed Loressa P. Rosales (Loressa) as Management Information System (MIS) Department Secretary. On December 26, 1996, she was promoted as Data Custodian and Coordinator. Loressas functions and authority include opening, editing and copying files in Sandens computers. She was also charged with the duty of creating back-up copies of all files under her custody.For this purpose, she can request all computer users at a particular time to log out or exit from the system.

On May 16, 1997, Sanden discovered that the marketing delivery receipt transactions computer files were missing. The Internal Auditing Department, through its Audit Officer, Ernesto M. Bayubay (Ernesto), immediately sent a memorandum dated May 17, 1997 to Garrick L. Ang (Garrick), the MIS Manager, requesting that a technical investigation be conducted. The investigation found that Loressa is the probable culprit, causing Atty. Reynaldo B. Destura (Atty. Reynaldo), the Personnel and Administrative Services Manager to send a letter Loressa charging her with data sabotage and absences without leave (AWOL). On July 17, 1997, the husband of Loressa received a Notice of Disciplinary Action from Sanden notifying Loressa that management is terminating Loressas employment effective upon receipt of the said communication. The reason cited by Sanden was the loss of trust on her capability to continue as its Coordinator and Data Custodian.

On September 9, 1997, Loressa filed a complaint for illegal dismissal with a prayer for the payment of 13thmonth pay, attorneys fees and other benefits. The Labor Arbiter ruled for Loressa, which the NLRC affirmed, but reversed later upon reconsideration. The CA affirmed the first decision of the NLRC.

ISSUE: Whether or not Sanden legally terminated Loressas employment on the ground of willful breach of trust and confidence as Coordinator and Data Custodian.

HELD:

The petition is denied.

LABOR LAW: Just causes for termination breach of trust and confidence.


Article 282(c) of the Labor Code prescribes two separate and distinct grounds for termination of employment, namely: (1) fraud or (2) willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative. Settled is the rule that under Article 282(c), the breach of trust must be willful. Ordinary breach will not suffice. "A breach is willful if it is done intentionally and knowingly without any justifiable excuse, as distinguished from an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly or inadvertently."

The first requisite for dismissal on the ground of loss of trust and confidence is that the employee concerned must be holding a position of trust and confidence. In this case, Loressa, who had immediate access to Sandens confidential files, papers and documents, held a position of trust and confidence as Coordinator and Data Custodian of the MIS Department.

The second requisite is that there must be an act that would justify the loss of trust and confidence. Loss of trust and confidence, to be a valid cause for dismissal, must be based on a willful breach of trust and founded on clearly established facts. The basis for the dismissal must be clearly and convincingly established but proof beyond reasonable doubt is not necessary. Sandens evidence against Loressa fails to meet this standard.

During the Administrative Investigation conducted by Sanden, there was no evidence presented to prove that Loressa indeed committed "data sabotage."The Minutes of the Discussion with respect to the May 16, 1997 data only made mention that "Bobots theory is that it was zapped, meaning permanently deleted."It is therefore a mere theory with no apparent factual basis, testimonial or documentary evidence, that would establish the guilt of Loressa for the charges of "data sabotage."

On the other hand, Loressa was able to provide documentary evidence to show that Sandens computer system was experiencing some problems even before May 16, 1997.

Petition is DENIED.

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