Case Digest: Tan Brothers v. Escudero

G.R. No. 188711 : JULY 3, 2013

TAN BROTHERS CORPORATION OF BASILAN CITY through its Owner/Manager, MAURO F. TAN, Petitioners, v. EDNA R. ESCUDERO, Respondent.

PEREZ, J.:


FACTS:

In July 1991, respondent Edna R. Escudero was hired as bookkeeper by petitioner Tan Brothers Corporation, a corporation primarily engaged in the real estate business. On September 1, 2004, respondent filed against petitioner corporation a complaint for illegal dismissal. She alleged that starting July 2003, her monthly salary of P2,500 was not paid on time by the petitioner corporation; and that in the early part of 2004, petitioner corporation allegedly rented out the office space of respondent and ceased giving her further assignments and was eventually constrained to stop reporting for work because of her dire financial condition.

The petitioner corporation averred that respondent abandoned her employment when she stopped reporting for work in July 2003. Tan Brothers maintained that, without its knowledge and consent,

Escudero appropriated for herself an Olivetti typewriter worth P15,000.00. With Escuderos refusal to heed its demands for the return of the typewriter, Tan Brothers asseverated that it was left with no choice but to lodge a complaint with the barangay authorities of Seaside, Isabela City on 6 September 2004. In support of its claim of due payment of its employees wages and benefits, Tan Brothers submitted copies of its remaining vouchers and payrolls from 24 December 1997 to 31 July 2000 which were prepared by Escudero and the result of the inspection conducted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that cleared it of violations of labor standard laws.

The LA rendered a decision finding that petitioner corporation guilty of constructively dismissing respondent from employment. The NLRC affirmed LAs decision. The CA affirmed NLRCs decision

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent abandoned her employment?

HELD: Respondent did not abandon her employment

LABOR LAW


Abandonment is the deliberate and unjustified refusal of an employee to resume his employment. It constitutes neglect of duty and is a just cause for termination of employment under paragraph (b) of Article 282 of the Labor Code. To constitute abandonment, however, there must be a clear and deliberate intent to discontinue one's employment without any intention of returning. In this regard, two elements must concur: (1) failure to report for work or absence without valid or justifiable reason, and (2) a clear intention to sever the employer-employee relationship, with the second element as the more determinative factor and being manifested by some overt acts. Otherwise stated, absence must be accompanied by overt acts unerringly pointing to the fact that the employee simply does not want to work anymore. It has been ruled that the employer has the burden of proof to show a deliberate and unjustified refusal of the employee to resume his employment without any intention of returning.

Repeating its defense of abandonment, Tan Brothers argues that Escudero unilaterally stopped reporting for work in July 2003. In addition to the latters prolonged absence from work, Tan Brothers calls our attention to Escuderos supposed appropriation of the corporations typewriter and records which supposedly evinced her intention to sever the parties employer-employee relations. It is argued that, having committed the foregoing infraction to get even with her employer, it would have been unthinkable for Escudero to plan on further reporting for work. Considering that the complaint did not pray for reinstatement and was filed only on 1 September 2004 or more than one year after Escuderos supposed last attendance at work, Tan Brothers also fault the CA for applying the rule that abandonment is negated by the employees filing of a complaint for illegal dismissal.

Neither are we inclined to disturb the CAs finding that Escudero was constructively dismissed by Tan Brothers which, as employer, had the burden of proving that said employee was dismissed for a just and valid cause. Constructive dismissal occurs when there is cessation of work because continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable, or unlikely as when there is a demotion in rank or diminution in pay or when a clear discrimination, insensibility, or disdain by an employer becomes unbearable to the employee leaving the latter with no other option but to quit. The test is whether a reasonable person in the employee's position would have felt compelled to give up his position under the circumstances. Much though Tan Brothers may now be inclined to disparage the same as mere alibis, the fact that Escudero was deprived of office space, was not given further work assignment and was not paid her salaries until she was left with no choice but stop reporting for work all combine to make out a clear case of constructive dismissal.

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