CASE 2013-0017:   GILDA C. FERNANDEZ AND BERNADETTE A. BELTRAN, PETITIONERS, -VERSUS- NEWFIELD STAFF SOLUTIONS, INC./ARNOLD “.JAY” LOPEZ, JR., RESPONDENTS (G.R. NO. 201979, 10 JULY 2013, VILLARAMA, JR., J.) SUBJECT/S: ABANDONMENT OF WORK; UNCONTESTED AWARD BINDING; LIABILITY OF CORPORATE OFFICERS. (BRIEF TITLE: FERNANDEZ ET AL VS. NEWFIELD STAFF  SOLUTIONS)

 

 DISPOSITIVE:


“WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED.


We REVERSE and SET ASIDE the Decision dated February 23, 2012 and Resolution dated May I 8, 20I2 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 118766. The Decision dated July 20, 2010 and Resolution dated January 25, 20I I ofthe NLRC in NLRC LAC No. I 1-003163-09 (NLRC NCR-12-17096- 08) are REINSTATED and UPHELD with claritication that respondent Arnold “Jay” Lopez, Jr. is not solidarily liable with respondent Newfield Staff Solutions, Inc.

 

 No costs.

 

 SO ORDERED.”


SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:


WHAT IS ABANDONMENT OF WORK?

 

 IT IS A FORM OF NEGLECT OF DUTY, ONE OF THE JUST CAUSES FOR AN EMPLOYER TO TERMINATE AN EMPLOYEE.

 

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WHAT FACTORS MUST BE PRESENT FOR ABANDONMENT TO EXIST?


TWO FACTORS:

 

 (1) THE 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 BEING MANIFESTED BY SOME OVERT ACTS.35

 

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ARE PETITIONERS DEEMED TO HAVE ABANDONED THEIR WORK?

 

NO. WHEN THEY WERE TOLD THEY WERE FIRED, THEY TOOK STEPS TO PROTEST THEIR DISMISSAL. THEY SENT DEMAND LETTERS AND WHEN THESE WERE IGNORED THEY IMMEDIATELY FILED COMPLAINT FOR ILLEGAL DISMISSAL.

 

EMPLOYEES WHO TAKE STEPS TO PROTEST THEIR DISMISSAL CANNOT LOGICALLY BE SAID TO HAVE ABANDONED THEIR WORK. A CHARGE OF ABANDONMENT IS TOTALLY INCONSISTENT WITH THE IMMEDIATE FILING OF A COMPLAINT FOR ILLEGAL DISMISSAL. THE FILING THEREOF IS PROOF ENOUGH OF ONE’S DESIRE TO RETURN TO WORK, THUS NEGATING ANY SUGGESTION OF ABANDONMENT.

 

“[I]T DEFIES REASON THAT [THEY] WOULD LEAVE THEIR JOB[S] AND THEN FIGHT ODDS TO WIN THEM BACK. HUMAN EXPERIENCE DICTATES THAT A WORKER WILL NOT JUST WALK AWAY FROM A GOOD PAYING JOB AND RISK [UNEMPLOYMENT] AND DAMAGES AS A RESULT THEREOF UNLESS ILLEGALLY DISMISSED.”

 

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NLRC AWARDED BACK WAGES FOR SIX MONTHS. IS THIS AWARD BINDING ON PETITIONERS?

 

YES BECAUSE PETITIONERS NO LONGER CONTESTED THE AWARD AND ARE THEREFORE PRESUMED TO HAVE ACCEPTED THE ADJUDICATION IN THE NLRC DECISION AND RESOLUTION. THIS IS IN ACCORD WITH THE DOCTRINE THAT A PARTY WHO HAS NOT APPEALED CANNOT OBTAIN FROM THE APPELLATE COURT ANY AFFIRMATIVE RELIEF OTHER THAN THE ONES GRANTED IN THE APPEALED DECISION. SIMILARLY, THE AWARD OF SEPARATION PAY WHICH WAS AFFIRMED BY THE NLRC IS BINDING ON PETITIONERS WHO EVEN ADMITTED THAT REINSTATEMENT IS NO LONGER POSSIBLE.

 

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IS LOPEZ JR. SOLIDARILY LIABLE WITH NEWFIELD?

 

NO.

 

THE LABOR ARBITER AND NLRC HAVE NOT FOUND LOPEZ, JR. GUILTY OF MALICE OR BAD FAITH. THUS, THERE IS NO BASIS TO HOLD LOPEZ, JR. SOLIDARILY LIABLE WITH NEWFIELD.

 

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WHEN IS THERE SOLIDARY LIABILITY?

 

THERE IS SOLIDARY LIABILITY WHEN THE OBLIGATION EXPRESSLY SO STATES, WHEN THE LAW SO PROVIDES, OR WHEN THE NATURE OF THE OBLIGATION SO REQUIRES.

 

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WHAT IS THE  RULE ON THE SOLIDARY LIABILITY OF CORPORATE OFFICERS IN A LABOR DISPUTE?

 

A CORPORATION, BEING A JURIDICAL ENTITY, MAY ACT ONLY THROUGH ITS DIRECTORS, OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES. OBLIGATIONS INCURRED BY_FUEM, ACTING AS SUCH CORPORATE AGENTS, ARE NOT THEIRS BUT THE DIRECT ACCOUNTABILITIES OF THE CORPORATION THEY REPRESENT.

 

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IS THERE AN EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE?

 

YES.

 

WHEN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES WARRANT SUCH AS, GENERALLY, IN THE FOLLOWING CASES:

 

WHEN DIRECTORS AND TRUSTEES OR, IN APPROPRIATE CASES, THE OFFICERS OF A CORPORATION –

 

(A) VOTE FOR OR ASSENT TO PATENTLY UNLAWFUL ACTS OF THE CORPORATION;

 

(B) ACT IN BAD FAITH OR WITH GROSS NEGLIGENCE IN

DIRECTING THE CORPORATE AITAIRS;

 

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WHAT IS MEANT BY “BAD FAITH” ABOVE?

 

BAD FAITH DOES NOT CONNOTE BAD JUDGMENT OR NEGLIGENCE; IT IMPORTS DISHONEST PURPOSE OR SOME MORAL OBLIQUITY AND CONSCIOUS DOING OF WRONG; IT MEANS BREACH OF A KNOWN DUTY THROUGH SOME MOTIVE OR INTEREST OR ILL WILL; IT PARTAKES OF THE NATURE OF FRAUD. TO SUSTAIN SUCH A FINDING, THERE SHOULD BE EVIDENCE ON RECORD THAT AN OFFICER OR DIRECTOR ACTED MALICIOUSLY OR IN BAD FAITH IN TERMINATING THE EMPLOYEE.

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

SCD-2013-0017 -JULY 2013 – FERNANDEZ