Case Digest: Valenzuela v. Caltex

G.R. Nos. 169965-66: December 15, 2010




Valenzuela was hired by Caltex sometime in March 1965 as Laborer and assigned in the Lube Oil Section of its Pandacan Terminal.After three years, he was designated as Machine Operator A. Valenzuela during the period of his employment transferred to Lapu-Lapu City where he served as a warehouseman.

On November 23, 1999, a spot operational audit was conducted on the Lapu-Lapu City District Office, and several irregularities in the handling of respondents merchandise were discovered. Valenzuela was required to explain within (48) hours such shortage and the other irregularities discovered during the spot audit. He was further informed that an administrative investigation will be conducted on the matter and because of the nature of his offense and his position in the Company. He was then preventively suspended to prevent further losses and/or possible tampering of the documents and other evidence.

After investigation, Valenzuela was dismissed on the ground of gross and habitual neglect among others to which he filed a complaint to the NLRC for illegal dismissal. The LA decided for Caltex, holding that there was no illegal dismissal but was reversed by the NLRC. Both parties raised it to the CA on petition for certiorari, which reversed the NLRC decision and upheld the LAs. Hence, this petition.


I. Whether or not the CA erred in giving due course to the petition for certiorari filed by herein respondent despite the alleged procedural defects

II. Whether or not the CA correctly ruled that petitioner was validly dismissed

HELD: Petition is denied.


First issue: The claim of Valenzuela that there was only one certification and verification against forum shopping filed by the respondents therein is utterly incorrect. Records show that there were two certifications and verifications against forum shopping submitted together with the questioned petition for certiorari. Equally without merit is Valenzuelas contention that the failure of CALTEX to submit certain documents together with its petition for certiorari warrants the dismissal thereof. The failure to submit certain documents, assuming there was such a failure on CALTEX's part, does not automatically warrant outright dismissal of its petition.


Second issue: There is no compelling reason in this case for the SC to reverse the ruling of the CA sustaining the finding of the Labor Arbiter that petitioner's dismissal was effected with just cause. The findings of the Labor Arbiter are supported by more than substantial evidence and even petitioner's admissions during the administrative hearings.

Under Article 282 of the Labor Code, as amended, gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties is a sufficient and legal ground to terminate employment. Jurisprudence provides that serious misconduct and habitual neglect of duties are among the just causes for terminating an employee. Gross negligence connotes want of care in the performance of ones duties. Habitual neglect implies repeated failure to perform ones duties for a period of time, depending upon the circumstances. Further, Article 282 of the Labor Code, as amended, also provides fraud or willful breach by employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer as a just cause for termination. It is always a serious issue for the employer when an employee performs acts which diminish or break the trust and confidence reposed in him. The Labor Code, as amended, although sympathetic to the working class, is aware of this scenario and in pursuit of fairness, included fraud or willful breach of trust as a just cause for termination of employment.