Bar Q & A, Labor Law

2014 Bar Exam Suggested Answers in Labor Law by the UP Law Complex

 

LABOR LAW

 

I.

Linda was employed by Sectarian University (SU) to cook for the members of a religious order who teach and live inside the campus. While performing her assigned task, Linda accidentally burned herself. Because of the extent of her injuries, she went on medical leave. Meanwhile, SU engaged a replacement cook. Linda filed a complaint for illegal dismissal, but her employer SU contended that Linda was not a regular employee but a domestic househelp. Decide (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

The employer’s argument that Linda was not a regular employee has no merit. The definition of domestic servant or househelper contemplates one who is employed in the employer’s home to minister exclusively to the personal comfort and enjoyment of the employer’s family. The Supreme Court already held that the mere fact that the househelper is working in relation to or in connection with its business warrants the conclusion that such househelper or domestic servant is and should be considered as a regular employee (Apex Mining Co., Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 94951, April 22, 1991). Here, Linda was hired not to minister to the personal comfort and enjoyment of her employer’s family but to attend to other employees who teach and live inside the campus.

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER:

The complaint for illegal dismissal should be dismissed. There was no showing that in hiring the replacement cook, SU severed its employer-employee relationship with Linda. In illegal dismissal cases, an employee must first establish, by substantial evidence, the fact of dismissal before shifting to the employer the burden of proving the validity of such dismissal (Grand Asian Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Wilfred Galvez, G.R. No. 178184, January 29, 2014). Here, Linda’s dismissal was not clearly established.

 

II.

Lucy was one of approximately 500 call center agents at Hambergis, Inc. She was hired as a contractual employee four years ago. Her contracts would be for a duration of five (5) months at a time, usually after a one-month interval Her re-hiring was contingent on her performance for the immediately preceding contract. Six (6) months after the expiration of her last contract, Lucy went to Hambergis personnel department to inquire why she was not yet being recalled to work. She was told that her performance during her last contract was “below average.” Lucy seeks your legal advice about her chances of getting her job back. What will your advice be? (4%)

 

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Lucy cannot get her job back. She is a fixed-term employee and as such, her employment terminates upon the expiration of her contract (Rowell Industrial Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 167714, March 7, 2007, 517 SCRA 691).

 

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER:

I will advise Lucy that she can get her job back if she files a case for illegal dismissal where, as a general rule, the twin reliefs of backwages and reinstatement are available. In the instant case, Lucy is a regular employee because the employment contracts of five (5) months at a time, for four (4) years are obviously intended to circumvent an employee’s security of tenure, and are therefore void. As a regular employee, Lucy may only be dismissed from service based on just and authorized causes enumerated under the Labor Code, and after observance of procedural due process prescribed under said law (Magsalin v. National Organization of Working Men, G.R. No. 148492, May 9, 2003).

 

III

Lolong Law Firm (LLF), which employs around fifty (50) lawyers and one hundred (100) regular staff, suffered losses for the first time in its history. The management informed its employees that it could no longer afford to provide them free lunch. Consequently, it announced that a nominal fee would henceforth be charged. Was LLF justified in withdrawing this benefit which it had unilaterally been providing to its employees? (1%)

(A) Yes, because it is suffering losses for the first time.

(B) Yes, because this is a management prerogative which is not due to any legal or contractual obligation.

(C No, because this amounts to a diminution of benefits which is prohibited by the Labor Code.

(D) No, because it is a fringe benefit that has already ripened into a demandable right.

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

(C) No, because this amounts to a diminution of benefits which is prohibited by the Labor Code.

 

IV.

Linis Manpower, Inc. (LMI) had provided janitorial services to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) since March 2009. Its service contract was renewed every three months. However, in the bidding held in June 2012, LMI was disqualified and excluded. In 2013, six janitors of LMI formerly assigned at POEA filed a complaint for underpayment of wages. Both LMI and POEA were impleaded as respondents. Should POEA, a government agency subject to budgetary appropriations from Congress, be held liable solidarily with LMI for the payment of salary differentials due to the complainant? Cite the legal basis of your answer. (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes, but only to the extent of work performed under the contract. The second paragraph of Art. 106 of the Labor Code provides:

Art. 106. Contractor or subcontractor. – … In the event that the contractor or subcontractor fails to pay the wages of his employees in accordance with this Code, the employer shall be jointly and severally, liable with his contractor or subcontractor to such employees to the extent of the work performed under the contract, in the same manner and extent that he is liable to employees directly employed by him …

The fact that POEA is a government agency is of no moment. In U.S.A. v. Ruiz (G.R. No. L-35645, May 22, 1985), the Supreme Court ruled that the State may be sued if the contract it entered into is pursuant to its proprietary functions.

 

V.

Liwayway Glass had 600 rank-and-file employees. Three rival unions A, B, and C participated in the certification elections ordered by the Med-Arbiter. 500 employees voted. The unions obtained the following votes: A-200; B-150; C-50; 90 employees voted “no union”; and 10 were segregated votes. Out of the segregated votes, four (4) were cast by probationary employees and six (6) were cast by dismissed employees whose respective cases are still on appeal. (10%)

(A) Should the votes of the probationary and dismissed

employees be counted in the total votes cast for the purpose of determining the winning labor union?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes. Rule IX, Sec. 5 of DOLE Department Order 40-03 provides that “[a]ll employees who are members of the appropriate bargaining unit sought to be represented by the petitioner at the time of the issuance of the order granting the conduct of a certification election shall be eligible to vote. An employee who has been dismissed from work but has contested the legality of the dismissal in a forum of appropriate jurisdiction at the time of the issuance of the order for the conduct of a certification election shall be considered a qualified voter, unless his/ her dismissal was declared valid in a final judgment at the time of the conduct of the certification election.”

(B) Was there a valid election?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes. To have a valid election, at least a majority of all eligible voters in the unit must have cast their votes (Art. 256, now Art. 266, of the Labor Code). In the instant case, 500 out of 600 rank-and-file employees voted.

  1. C) Should Union A be declared the winner?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

No. The Labor Code provides that the Labor Union receiving the majority of the valid votes cast shall be certified as the exclusive bargaining agent of all the workers in the unit (Art. 256, now Art. 266, of the Labor Code). Here, the number of valid votes cast is 490; thus, the winning union should receive at least 246 votes. Union A only received 200 votes.

(D) Suppose the election is declared invalid, which of the

contending unions should represent the rank-and-file employees?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

None of them should represent the rank-and-file employees (Art. 255, now Art. 265, of the Labor Code).

(E) Suppose that in the election, the unions obtained

the following votes: A-250; B-150; C-50; 40 voted “no union”; and 10 were segregated votes. Should Union A be certified as the bargaining representative?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes. The Labor Code provides that the Labor Union receiving the majority of the valid votes cast shall be certified as the exclusive bargaining agent of all the workers in the unit (Art. 256, now Art. 266, of the Labor Code). Here, the number of valid votes cast is 490. Thus, the winning union should receive at least 246 votes; Union A received 250 votes.

 

VI.

Lina has been working as a steward with a Miami, U.S.A.-based Loyal Cruise Lines for the past fifteen (15) years. She was recruited by a local manning agency, Macapagal Shipping, and was made to sign a ten-month (10) employment contract everytime she left for Miami. Macapagal Shipping paid for Lina’s round-trip travel expenses from Manila to Miami. Because of a food poisoning incident which happened during her last cruise assignment, Lina was not re-hired. Lina claims she has been illegally terminated and seeks separation pay. If you were the Labor Arbiter handling the case, how would you decide? (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

I will dismiss Lina’s complaint. Lina is a contractual employee and the length of her employment is determined by the contracts she entered into. Here, her employment was terminated at the the expiration of the contract (Millares v. NLRC, G.R. No. 110524, July 29, 2002, 385 SCRA 306, 318).

 

VII.

Non-lawyers can appear before the Labor Arbiter if: (1%)

(A) they represent themselves

(B) they are properly authorized to represent their legitimate labor organization or member thereof

(C) they are duly-accredited members of the legal aid office recognized by the DOJ or IBP

(D) they appear in cases involving an amount of less than Php5,000

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

(A) they represent themselves (Art. 222, Labor Code: Rule III, Sec. 6, 2011 NLRC Rules of Procedure).

 

VIII.

As a result of a bargaining deadlock between Lazo Corporation and Lazo Employees Union, the latter staged a strike. During the strike, several employees committed illegal acts. Eventually, its members informed the company of their intention to return to work. (6%)

(A) Can Lazo Corporation refuse to admit the strikers?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

No. The commission of illegal acts during a strike does not automatically bring about loss of employment status. Due process must be observed by the employer before any dismissal can be made (Stamford Marketing Corp. v. Julian, G.R. No. 145496, February 24, 2004, 423 SCRA 633).

(B) Assuming the company admits the strikers, can it later

on dismiss those employees who committed illegal acts?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

No. The employer may be considered as having waived its right to dismiss employees who committed illegal acts during the strike (Reformist Union of R.B. Liner v. NLRC, G.R. No. 120482, January 27, 1997, 266 SCRA 713).

(C) If due to prolonged strike, Lazo Corporation hired replacements, can it refuse to admit the replaced strikers?

 

No. Sec. 3, Art. XIII of the Constitution guarantees workers the right to strike in accordance with law, and prolonged strike is not prohibited by law. With Art. 212 (o) defining strike as “any temporary stoppage of work as a result of an industrial or labor dispute, it is the prerogative of strikers to cut short or prolong a strike. By striking, the employees have not abandoned their employment. Rather, they have only ceased temporarily from rendering work. The striking employees have not lost their right to go back to their positions, because the declaration of a strike is not a renunciation of their employment, much less their employee-employer relationship.

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER:

No. As a general rule, replacements take their employment as conditional, i.e., subject to the rights of strikers to return to work.

However, since this is an economic strike, the strikers are entitled to reinstatement only in case Lazo Corporation has not yet hired permanent replacements (Consolidated Labor Association v. Marsman & Co., G.R. No. L-17038, July 31, 1964, 11 SCRA 589).

 

.

IX.

Luisa Court is a popular chain of motels. It employs over thirty (30) chambermaids who, among others, help clean and maintain the rooms. These chambermaids are part of the union rank-and-file employees which has an existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the company. While the CBA was in force, Luisa Court decided to abolish the position of chambermaids and outsource the cleaning of the rooms to Malinis Janitorial Services, a bona fide independent contractor which has invested in substantial equipment and sufficient manpower. The chambermaids filed a case of illegal dismissal against Luisa Court. In response, the company argued that the decision to outsource resulted from the new management’s directive to streamline operations and save on costs.

If you were the Labor Arbiter assigned to the case, how would you decide? (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

I will decide in favor of Luisa Court, provided that all the requisites for a valid retrenchment under the Labor Code are satisfied. It is management prerogative to farm out any of its activities (BPI Employees UnionDavao City-FUBU (BPIEU-Davao City-FUBU) v. Bank of the Philippine Islands, G.R. No. 174912, July 24, 2013).

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER:

I will decide in favor of the chambermaids. Art. 248 (c) of the Labor Code considers as unfair labor practice on the part of Luisa Court its “contract out the services or functions being performed by union members.” Luisa Court’s abolition and act of outsourcing the chambermaids’ positions are clearly acts of illegal dismissal.

 

X.

Luisa was hired as a secretary by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila. Luisa’s first boss was a Japanese national whom she got along with. But after two years, the latter was replaced by an arrogant Indian national who did not believe her work output was in accordance with international standards. One day, Luisa submitted a draft report filled with typographical errors to her boss. The latter scolded her, but Luisa verbally fought back. The Indian boss decided to terminate her services right then and there. Luisa filed a case for illegal dismissal with the Labor Arbiter claiming arbitrariness and denial of due process.

If you were the Labor Arbiter, how would you decide the case? (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

I will dismiss the case. ADB enjoys immunity from suit (DFA v. NLRC, G.R. No. 113191, September 18, 1996).

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER:

I will decide in favor of Luisa, by granting nominal damages. To clarify, however, Luisa’s dismissal is not illegal, for it has been held that failure to observe prescribed standards of work, or to fulfill reasonable work assignments due to inefficiency, as in this case, may constitute just cause for dismissal (Iluminada Ver Buiser v. Leogardo, Jr., G.R. No. L-63316, July 31, 1984, 131 SCRA 15). Nonetheless, the employer’s failure to comply with the procedure prescribed by law in terminating the services of the employee warrants the payment of nominal damages of Php 30,000, in accordance with the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Agabon v. NLRC (G.R. No. 158693, November 17, 2004).

XI.

Lionel, an American citizen whose parents migrated to the U.S. from the Philippines, was hired by JP Morgan in New York as a call center specialist. Hearing about the phenomenal growth of the call center industry in his parents’ native land, Lionel sought and was granted a transfer as a call center manager for JP Morgan’s operations in Taguig City. Lionel’s employment contract did not specify a period for his stay in the Philippines. After three years of working in the Philippines, Lionel was advised that he was being recalled to New York and being promoted to the position of director of international call center operations. However, because of certain “family reasons,” Lionel advised the company of his preference to stay in the Philippines. He was dismissed by the company. Lionel now seeks your legal advice on: (6%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

(A) whether he has a cause of action

Lionel has a cause of action; he was illegally dismissed. Dismissal due to an employee’s refusal of a promotion is not within the sphere of management prerogative. There is no law that compels an employee to accept promotion (Dosch v. NLRC, G.R. No. L-51182, July 5, 1983).

(B) whether he can file a case in the Philippines

Yes. Since this is a case of illegal dismissal, the Labor Arbiters have jurisdiction over the same (Art. 217 (a) (2), Labor Code). Under the 2011 NLRC Rules of Procedure, all cases which Labor Arbiters have authority to hear and decide, may be filed in the Regional Arbitration Branch having jurisdiction over the workplace of the complainant or petitioner (Rule IV, Sec. 1).

 

(C) what are his chances of winning

He has a big chance of winning. An employee cannot be promoted without his consent, even if the same is merely a result of a transfer, and an employee’s refusal to accept promotion cannot be considered as insubordination or willful disobedience of a lawful order of the employer. In this case, JP Morgan cannot dismiss Lionel due to the latter’s refusal to accept the promotion (Norkis Trading Co., Inc. v. Gnilo, G.R. No. 159730, February 11, 2008, 544 SCRA 279).

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER:

His chances of winning is nil because the objection to the transfer was grounded solely on personal “family reasons” that will be caused to him because of the transfer (OSS Security & Allied Services, Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 112752, February 9, 2000, 325 SCRA 157); Phil. Industrial Security Agency Corp. v. Dapiton, G.R. No. 127421, December 8, 1999, 320 SCRA 124).

XII.

Which of the following groups does not enjoy the right to self-organization? (1%)

(A) those who work in a non-profit charitable institution

(B) those who are paid on a piece-rate basis

(C) those who work in a corporation with less than ten (10) employees

(D) those who work as legal secretaries

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

(D) those who work as legal secretaries (Tunay na Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Asia Brewery v. Asia Brewery, Inc., G.R. No. 162025, August 3, 2010).

 

XIII.

Don Luis, a widower, lived alone in a house with a large garden. One day, he noticed that the plants in his garden needed trimming. He remembered that Lando, a 17-year old out-of-school youth, had contacted him in church the other day looking for work. He contacted Lando who immediately attended to Don Luis’s garden and finished the job in three days. (4%)

(A) Is there an employer-employee relationship between Don Luis and Lando?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes. All the elements of employer-employee relationship are present, viz: 1. the selection and engagement of the employee; 2. the power of dismissal; 3. the payment of wages; and 4. the power to control the employee’s conduct. There was also no showing that Lando has his own tools, or equipment so as to qualify him as an independent contractor.

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER:

None. Lando is an independent contractor for Don Luis does not exercise control over Lando’s means and method in tending to the former’s garden.

(B) Does Don Luis need to register Lando with the Social Security System (SSS)?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes. Coverage in the SSS shall be compulsory upon all employees not over sixty (60) years of age.

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER:

No. Lando is not an employee of Don Luis. What the parties have is a contract for a piece of work which. while allowed by Art. 1713 of the Civil Code, does not make Lando an employee under the Labor Code and Social Security Act.

XIV.

Luisito has been working with Lima Land for twenty vears. Wanting to work in the public sector, Luisito applied with and was offered a job at Livecor. Before accepting the offer, he wanted to consult you whether the payments that he and Lima Land had made to the Social Security System (SSS) can be transferred or credited to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

What would you advice? (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes. Under R.A. 7699, otherwise known as the Portability Law, one may combine his years of service in the private sector represented by his contributions to the Social Security System (SSS) with his government service and contributions to the GSIS. The contributions shall be totalized for purposes of old-age, disability, survivorship and other benefits in case the covered member does not qualify for such benefits in either or both Systems without totalization.

 

XV.

Our Lady of Peace Catholic School Teachers and Employees Labor Union (OLPCS-TELU) is a legitimate labor organization composed of vice-principals, department heads, coordinators, teachers, and non-teaching personnel of Our Lady of Peace Catholic School (OLPCS).

OLPCS-TELU subsequently filed a petition for certification election among the teaching and non-teaching personnel of OLPCS before the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The Med-Arbiter subsequently granted the petition and ordered the conduct of a joint certification election for the teaching and non-teaching personnel of OLPCS.

May OLPCS-TELU be considered a legitimate labor organization? (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes. The facts of the case concede that OLPCS-TELY “is a legitimate labor organization.”

 

XVI.

Samahang East Gate Enterprises (SEGE) is a labor organization composed of the rank-and-file employees of East Gate Enterprises (EGE), the leading manufacturer of all types of gloves and aprons.

EGE was later requested by SEGE to bargain collectively for better terms and conditions of employment of all the rank-and-file employees of EGE. Consequently, EGE filed a petition for certification election before the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR).

During the proceedings, EGE insisted that it should participate in the certification process. EGE reasoned that since it was the one who filed the petition and considering that the employees concerned were its own rank-and-file employees, it should be allowed to take an active part in the certification process.

Is the contention of EGE proper? Explain. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

No. Under Art. 258 (a) of the Labor Code, an emploġer is a mere bystander in certification elections, whether the petition for certification election is filed by said employer or a legitimate labor organization. The employer shall not be considered a party thereto with a concomitant right to oppose a petition for certification election.

 

XVII.

Philhealth is a government-owned and controlled corporation employing thousands of Filipinos. Because of the desire of the employees of Philhealth to obtain better terms and conditions of employment from the government, they formed the Philhealth Employees Association (PEA) and demanded Philhealth to enter into negotiations with PEA regarding terms and conditions of employment which are not fixed by law. (4%)

(A) Are the employees of Philhealth allowed to self-organize and form PEA and thereafter demand Philhealth to enter into negotiations with PEA for better terms and conditions of employment?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes. Employees of Philhealth are allowed to selforganize under Sec. 8, Art. III and Sec. 3, Art. XIII of the Constitution which recognize the rights of all workers to self-organization. They cannot demand, however, for better terms and conditions of employment for the same are fixed by law (Art. 244, Labor Code), besides, their salaries are standardized by Congress (Art. 276, Labor Code).

(B) In case of unresolved grievances, can PEA resort to strikes, walkouts, and other temporary work stoppages to pressure the government to accede to their demands?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

No. Since the terms and conditions of government employment are fixed by law, government workers cannot use the same weapons employed by workers in the private sector to secure concessions from their employers (Blaquera v. Alcala, G.R. Nos. 109406. 110642, 111494, 112056, 119597, September 11, 1998).

 

XVIII.

The procedural requirements of a valid strike include: (1%)

(A) a claim of either unfair labor practice or deadlock in collective bargaining

(B) notice of strike filed at least fifteen (15) days before a ULP-grounded strike or at least thirty (30) days prior to the deadlock in a bargaining-grounded strike

(C) majority of the union membership must have voted to stage the strike with notice thereon furnished to the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) at least twenty-four (24) hours before the strike vote is taken

(D) strike vote results must be furnished to the NCMB at least seven (7) days before the intended strike

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

(B) notice of strike filed at least fifteen (15) days before a ULP-grounded strike or at least thirty (30) days prior to the deadlock in a bargaining-grounded strike (Art. 263 (c), Labor Code).

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER:

(C).majority of the union membership must have voted to stage the strike with notice thereon furnished to the National Conciliation and Mediation Board(NCMB) at least 24 hours before the strike vote is taken (Art. 263 (f), Labor Code).

(D) strike vote results must be furnished to the NCMB at least seven (7) days before the intended strike (Art. 263 (f), Labor Code).

 

XIX.

Lincoln was in the business of trading broadcast equipment used by television and radio networks. He employed Lionel as his agent. Subsequently, Lincoln set up Liberty Communications to formally engage in the same business. He requested Lionel to be one of the incorporators and assigned to him 100 Liberty shares. Lionel was also given the title Assistant Vice-President for Sales and Head of Technical Coordination. After several months, there were allegations that Lionel was engaged in “under the table dealings” and received “confidential commissions” from Liberty’s clients and suppliers. He was, therefore, charged with serious misconduct and willful breach of trust, and was given fortyeight (48) hours to present his explanation on the charges. Lionel was unable to comply with the 48-hour deadline and was subsequently barred from entering company premises. Lionel then filed a complaint with the Labor Arbiter claiming constructive dismissal. Among others, the company sought the dismissal of the complaint alleging that the case involved an intra-corporate controversy which was within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court (RTC).

If you were the Labor Arbiter assigned to the case, how would you rule on the company’s motion to dismiss? (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

I will deny the motion to dismiss. “Corporate officers” in the context of Presidential Decree No. 902-A are those officers of the corporation who are given that character by the Corporation Code or by the corporation’s by-laws. Sec. 25 of the Corporation Code enumerates three specific officers that in law are considered as corporate officers – the president, secretary and the treasurer. Lincoln is not one of them. There is likewise no showing that his position as Assistant Vice-President is a corporate officer in the company’s by-laws. The Labor Arbiter therefore, has jurisdiction over the case (Art. 217 (a) (2), Labor Code).

 

XX.

Lito was anticipating the bonus he would receive for 2013. Aside from the 13th month pay, the company has been awarding him and his other co-employees a two to three months bonus for the last ten (10) years. However, because of poor over-all sales performance for the year, the company unilaterally decided to pay only a one month bonus in 2013. (4%)

Is Lito’s employer legally allowed to reduce the bonus?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes. A bonus is an act of generosity granted by an enlightened employer to spur the employee to greater efforts for the success of the business and realization of bigger profits. The granting of a bonus is a management prerogative, something given in addition to what is ordinarily received by or strictly due the recipient. Thus, a bonus is not a demandable and enforceable obligation, except when it is made part of the wage, salary or compensation of the employee. It may, therefore, be withdrawn, unless they have been made a part of the wage or salary or compensation of the employees, a matter which is not in the facts of the case (American Wire and Cable Daily Rated Employees Union v. American Wire and Cable Co., Inc., G.R. No. 155059, April 29, 2005).

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER:

No. Having been enjoyed for the last ten (10) years, the granting of the bonus has ripened into a company practice or policy which can no longer be peremptorily withdrawn. Art. 100 of the Labor Code prohibits the diminution or elimination by the employer of the employees’ existing benefits.

 

XXI.

An accidental fire gutted the JKL factory in Caloocan. JKL decided to suspend operations and requested its employees to stop reporting for work. After six (6) months, JKL resumed operations but hired a new set of employees. The old set of employees filed a case for illegal dismissal.

If you were the Labor Arbiter, how would you decide the case? (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

I will rule in favor of the employees. JKL factory merely suspended its operations as a result of the fire that gutted its factory. Art. 286 of the Labor Code states that an employer may bona fide suspend the operation of its business for a period not exceeding six (6) months. In such a case, there would be no termination of the employment of the employees, but only a temporary displacement. Since the suspension of work lasted more than six months, there is now constructive dismissal (Sebuguero v. NLRC, G.R. No. 115394, September 27, 1995, 245 SCRA 532).

 

XXII.

Despite a reinstatement order, an employer may choose not to reinstate an employee if: (1%)

(A) there is a strained employer-employee relationship

(B) the position of the employee no longer exists

(C) the employer’s business has been closed

(D) the employee does not wish to be reinstated.

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

(D) the employee does not wish to be reinstated (DUP Sound Phils. v. CA, G.R. No. 168317, November 21, 2011).

 

XXIII.

Luningning Foods engaged the services of Lamitan Manpower, Inc., a bona fide independent contractor, to provide “tasters” that will check on food quality. Subsequently, these “tasters” joined the union of rank-and-file employees of Luningning and demanded that they be made regular employees of the latter as they are performing functions necessary and desirable to operate the company’s business. Luningning rejected the demand for regularization. On behalf of the “tasters,” the union then filed a notice of strike with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). In response, Luningning sought a restraining order from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) arguing that the DOLE does not have jurisdiction over the case since it does not have an employer-employee relationship with the employees of an independent contractor.

If you were the RTC judge, would you issue a restraining order against the union? (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes. There is no labor dispute in the instant case. Since Lamitan Manpower is a bona fide independent contractor, there is no employee-employer relationship between the Luningning and the tasters.

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER:

No. Art. 254 of the Labor Code is clear that no temporary or permanent injunction or restraining order in any case involving or growing out of labor disputes shall be issued by any court or other entity, except as provided in Article 218 and 264 of the same Code.

XXIV.

Lanz was a strict and unpopular Vice-President for Sales of Lobinsons Land. One day, Lanz shouted invectives against Lee, a poor performing sales associate, calling him, among others, a “brown monkey.” Hurt, Lee decided to file a criminal complaint for grave defamation against Lanz. The prosecutor found probable cause and filed an information in court. Lobinsons decided to terminate Lanz for committing a potential crime and other illegal acts prejudicial to business. Can Lanz be legally terminated by the company on these grounds? (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

No. The grounds relied upon by Lobinsons are not just causes for dismissal under the Labor Code. Defamation is not a crime against person which is a ground to dismiss under Art. 282, now Art. 295 (d) of the Labor Code.


XXV.

Lizzy Lu is a sales associate for Luna Properties. The latter is looking to retrench Lizzy and five other sales associates due to financial losses. Aside from a basic monthly salary, Lizzy and her colleagues receive commissions on the sales they make as well as cost of living and representation allowances. In computing Lizzy’s separation pay, Luna Properties should consider her: (1%)

(A) monthly salary only

(B) monthly salary plus sales commissions

(C) monthly salary plus sales commissions, plus cost of living allowance

(D) monthly salary plus sales commissions, plus cost of living allowance and representation allowance

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

(D) monthly salary plus sales commissions, plus cost of living allowance and representation allowance (Songco v. NLRC, G.R. No. L-50999, March 23, 1990).

 

XXVI.

Liwanag Corporation is engaged in the power generation business. A stalemate was reached during the collective bargaining negotiations between its management and the union. After following all the requisites provided by law, the union decided to stage a strike. The management sought the assistance of the Secretary of Labor and Employment, who assumed jurisdiction over the strike and issued a return-to-work order. The union defied the latter and continued the strike. Without providing any notice, Liwanag Corporation declared everyone who participated in the strike as having lost their employment. (4%)

(A) Was Liwanag Corporation’s action valid?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes. A strike that is undertaken despite the issuance by the Secretary of Labor of an assumption or certification order becomes an illegal act committed in the course of a strike. It rendered the strike illegal. The Union officers and members, as a result, are deemed to have lost their employment status for having knowingly participated in an illegal act (Union of Filipro Employees (UFE) v. Nestle Philippines, Inc., G.R. Nos. 88710-13, December 19, 1990, 192 SCRA 396). Such kind of dismissal under Art. 264 can immediately be resorted to as an exercise of management prerogative (Biflex Phils., Inc. v. Filflex Industrial & Manufacturing Corp., G.R. No. 155679, December 19, 2006, 511 SCRA 247).

ALTERNATIVE ANSWER:

No. Liwanag Corporation cannot outrightly declare the defiant strikers to have lost their employment status. “(A)s in other termination cases,” the strikers are entitled to due process protection under Art. 277 (b) of the Labor Code. Nothing in Art. 264 of the Code authorizes immediate dismissal of those who commit illegal acts during a strike (Stamford Marketing Corp. V. Julian, G.R. No. 145496, February 24, 2004, 423 SCRA 633; Suico v. NLRC, G.R. No. 146762, January 30, 2007, 513 SCRA 325).

(B) If, before the DOLE Secretary assumed jurisdiction, the striking union members communicated in writing their desire to return to work, which offer Liwanag Corporation refused to accept, what remedy, if any, does the union have?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

File a case for illegal dismissal [Art. 217 (a) (2), Labor Code]

XXVII.

The jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Commission does not include: (1%)

(A) exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all cases decided

by the Labor Arbiter (B) exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all cases decided

by Regional Directors or hearing officers involving the recovery of wages and other monetary claims and benefits arising from employer-employee relations where the aggregate money claim of each does not exceed five

thousand pesos (P5,000) (C) original jurisdiction to act as a compulsory arbitration

body over labor disputes certified to it by the Regional

Directors (D) power to issue a labor injunction

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

(C) original jurisdiction to act as a compulsory arbitration body over labor disputes certified to it by the Regional Directors (Art. 129, Labor Code).

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.