Saturday, January 26, 2008

Some Case Principles in Labor Law

Sharing my midterm notes on some pertinent principles in Labor Law based on the cases decided by the Supreme Court. Bear with me though for I have not included the case citations. As usual this working student was in a hurry. I assure you most of these are recent, standing principles up to 2007.

IMPORTANT CASE PRINCIPLES IN LABOR LAW

I. The Applicable Laws

  1. The Labor Code grants the Labor Secretary the power to restrict and regulate recruitment and placement activities. The circulars are reasonable, valid and justified under the general welfare clause of the Constitution, since the recruitment and deployment business, as it is conducted today, is affected with public interest.
  1. It is a well-settled doctrine, that if doubts exist between the evidence presented by the employer and the employee, the scales of justice must be tilted in favor of the latter. As stated in the Labor Code, all doubts in the implementation and the interpretation of the Labor Code shall be resolved in favor of labor, in order to give effect to the policy of the State to “afford protection to labor, promote full employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race or creed, and regulate the relations between workers and employers,” and to “assure the rights of workers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of tenure, and just and humane conditions of work.”

II. Basic Principles

  1. Although the contract provided for the rules and regulations to be followed, the same are intended to govern the conduct of the business as provided for in the Insurance Code and enforced by the Insurance Commissioner. It is, therefore, usual and expected for an insurance company to promulgate a set of rules to guide its commission agents in selling its policies that they may not run afoul of the law and what it requires or prohibits.
  1. In the very nature of things, caddies must submit to some supervision of their conduct while enjoying the privilege of pursuing their occupation within the premises and grounds of whatever club they do their work in. They work without having to observe any working hours, free to leave anytime they please, to stay away for as long as they like. All these considerations clash frontally with the concept of employment.
  1. Under the control test, an ER-EE relationship exists where the person for whom the services are performed reserves the right to control not only the end to be achieved, but also the manner and means to used in reaching that end. The different memoranda issued by the company were merely guidelines on company policies which the sales managers follow and impose on their respective agents. Nevertheless, Limjoco and the other agents were free to conduct and promote their sales operations. The periodic reports to the petitioner by the agents were but necessary to update the company of the latter's performance and business income.
  1. Economic Reality Test- involves the underlying economic realities of the activity or relationship such as—

a. the extent to which the services performed are an integral part of the ER’s business

b. the extent of the worker’s investment in equipment and facilities

c. the nature and degree of control exercised by the employer

d. worker’s opportunity for profit and loss

e. amt of initiative, skill, judgment or foresight required for the success of the claimed independent enterprise

f. permanency and duration of the relationship between worker and employer

g. degree of dependency of the worker upon the ER for his continued employment in that line of business

Under the Economic Reality Test, she is also deemed an employee because she had served the company for 6 years before dismissal, receiving check vouchers indicating her salaries/wages, benefits, 13th month pay, bonuses and allowances and deductions and SSS contributions. Petitioner is therefore economically dependent on respondent corp for her continued employment in the latter’s line of business.

  1. In the selection and engagement of respondents, no peculiar or unique skill, talent or celebrity status was required from them because they were merely hired through petitioner’s personnel department just like any ordinary employee. The so-called “talent fees” of respondents correspond to wages given as a result of an employer-employee relationship. Respondent did not have the power to bargain for hue talent fees, a circumstance negating independent contractual relationship.
  1. In Sonza, the television station did not exercise control over the means and methods of the performance of Sonza’s work. In the case at bar, ABC had control over the performance of petitioner’s work. Noteworthy too, is the comparatively low P28,000 monthly pay of petitioner vis the P300,000 a month salary of Sonza, that all the more bolsters the conclusion that petitioner was not in the same situation as Sonza.
  1. GR: A hospital is NOT liable for the negligence of an INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR-PHYSICIAN.

EXCEPTION: If the physician is the “OSTENSIBLE” agent of the hospital also known as “DOCTRINE OF APPARENT AUTHORITY” - a hospital can be held vicariously liable for the negligent acts of a physician providing care at the hospital, regardless of whether the physician is an independent contractor, unless the patient know, or should have known, that the physician is an independent contractor.

III. Right to Hire

  1. The engagement of former employees with direct competitors may pose an unfair advantage to such competitors. Therefore, such condition in the contract prohibiting subsequent competitive employment is valid on the ground of its reasonableness and necessity.
  1. A contract by which an employee agrees to refrain for a given length of time, after the expiration of the term of his employment, from engaging in a business, competitive with that of his employer, is not void as being in restraint of trade if the restraint imposed is not greater than that which is necessary to afford a reasonable protection.
  1. The prohibition against personal or marital relationships with employees of competitor companies upon Glaxo’s employees is reasonable under the circumstances because relationships of that nature might compromise the interests of the company.
  1. The questioned policy may not facially violate Article 136 of the Labor Code but it creates a disproportionate effect and under the disparate impact theory, the only way it could pass judicial scrutiny is a showing that it is reasonable despite the discriminatory, albeit disproportionate, effect. For failure of petitioners to present undisputed proof of a reasonable business necessity, we rule that the questioned policy is an invalid exercise of management prerogative.

IV. WAGE AND WAGES RATIONALIZATION ACT

  1. Granting that meals and lodging were provided and indeed constituted facilities, such facilities could not be deducted without the employer complying first with certain legal requirements. Without satisfying these requirements, the employer simply cannot deduct the value from the employee's wages. First, proof must be shown that such facilities are customarily furnished by the trade. Second, the provision of deductible facilities must be voluntarily accepted in writing by the employee. Finally, facilities must be charged at fair and reasonable value.
  1. Wage distortion presupposes an increase in the compensation of the lower ranks in an office hierarchy without a corresponding raise for higher-tiered employees in the same region of the country, resulting in the elimination or the severe diminution of the distinction between the two groups.
  1. The State has the right and duty to regulate the relations between labor and capital. These relations are not merely contractual but are so impressed with public interest that labor contracts, collective bargaining agreements included, public policy, courts will not hesitate to strike down these stipulations. We find the point-of-hire classification by employed by respondent School to justify the distinction in the salary rates of foreign-hires and local-hires to be an invalid classification. There is no reasonable distinction between the services rendered by foreign-hires and local-hires.
  1. The Labor Code is clear that monthly-paid employees are not excluded from the benefits of holiday pay. However, the implementing rules on holiday pay promulgated by the then Secretary of Labor excludes monthly-paid employees from the said benefits by inserting, under Rule IV, Book III of the implementing rules, Section 2 which provides that monthly-paid employees are presumed to be paid for all days in the month whether worked or not. Thus, Section 2 cannot serve as basis of any right or claim. Absent any other legal basis, petitioners’ claim for wage differentials must fail. The basic rule in this jurisdiction is "no work, no pay." The right to be paid for un-worked days is generally limited to the ten legal holidays in a year.
  1. There are two ways of fixing the minimum wage: the "floor-wage" method and the "salary-ceiling" method. The "floor-wage" method involves the fixing of a determinate amount to be added to the prevailing statutory minimum wage rates. On the other hand, in the "salary-ceiling" method, the wage adjustment was to be applied to employees receiving a certain denominated salary ceiling. In other words, workers already being paid more than the existing minimum wage (up to a certain amount stated in the Wage Order) are also to be given a wage increase.

V. WAGE ENFORCEMENT AND RECOVERY

  1. There is no doubt that the Regional Directors under RA 6715 can try money claims only if the following requisites concur: a) The claim is presented by an employee or person employed in domestic or household service, or househelper under the code; b) The claimant, no longer being employed, does not seek reinstatement; and c) The aggregate money claim of the employee or housekeeper does not exceed P5,000.
  1. We sustain the jurisdiction of the DOLE Regional Director. The visitorial and enforcement powers of the DOLE Regional Director to order and enforce compliance with labor standard laws can be exercised even where the individual claim exceeds P5,000.00

VI. WAGE PROTECTION PROVISIONS & PROHIBITIONS REGARDING WAGES

  1. A company practice favorable to the employees had indeed been established and the payments made pursuant thereto, ripened into benefits enjoyed by them. And any benefit and supplement being enjoyed by the employees cannot be reduced, diminished, discontinued or eliminated by the employer.
  1. The court has consistently ruled that a bonus is not a demandable and enforceable obligation. It may nevertheless be granted on equitable considerations as when the giving of such bonus has been the company’s long and regular practice. To be considered a “regular practice,” however, the giving of the bonus should have been done over a long period of time, and must be shown to have been consistent and deliberate.
  1. Petitioner has no legal authority to withhold respondents’ 13th month pay and other benefits. What an employee has worked for, his employer must pay. Thus, an employer cannot simply refuse to pay the wages or benefits of its employee because he has either defaulted in paying a loan guaranteed by his employer; or violated their memorandum of agreement; or failed to render an accounting of his employer’s property.
  1. To dismiss an employee, the law requires not only the existence of a just and valid cause but also enjoins the employer to give the employee the opportunity to be heard and to defend himself.
  1. For a bonus to be enforceable, it must have been promised by the employer and expressly agreed upon by the parties, or it must have had a fixed amount and had been a long and regular practice on the part of the employer.
  1. Management is free to regulate, according to its own discretion and judgment, all aspects of employment, including hiring, work assignments, working methods, time, place and manner of work, processes to be followed, supervision of workers, working regulations, transfer of employees, work supervision, layoff of workers and discipline, dismissal, and recall of workers.

VII. PAYMENT OF WAGES

  1. The petitioner was burdened to prove not only the existence of such benefits but also that he is entitled to the same, especially considering that such privileges are not inherent to the positions occupied by the petitioner in the respondent corporation, son-in-law of its president or not.
  1. Law and jurisprudence have long recognized the right of employers to dismiss employees by reason of loss of trust and confidence. More so, in the case of supervisors or personnel occupying positions of responsibility, loss of trust justifies termination. Loss of confidence as a just cause for dismissal is premised on the fact that an employee concerned holds a position of trust and confidence. This situation applies where a person is entrusted with confidence on delicate matters, such as the custody, handling, or care and protection of the employer’s property. But, in order to constitute a just cause for dismissal, the act complained of must be “work-related,” such that the employee concerned is unfit to continue working for the employer.
  1. The award of 13th month pay must be deleted. Respondent is not a rank-and-file employee and is, therefore, not entitled to thirteenth-month pay.
  1. Backwages in general are granted on grounds of equity for earnings which a worker or employee has lost due to his illegal dismissal. It is not private compensation or damages but is awarded in furtherance and effectuation of the public objective of the Labor Code. Nor is it a redress of a private right but rather in the nature of a command to the employer to make public reparation for dismissing an employee either due to the former’s unlawful act or bad faith. Article 279 mandates that an employee’s full backwages shall be inclusive of allowances and other benefits or their monetary equivalent.

VIII. CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT

  1. Even as the law is solicitous of the welfare of the employees, it must also protect the right of an employer to exercise what are clearly management prerogatives. Thus, management is free to regulate, according to its own discretion and judgment, all aspects of employment, including hiring, work assignments, working methods, time, place and manner of work, processes to be followed, supervision of workers, working regulations, transfer of employees, work supervision, lay off of workers and discipline, dismissal and recall of workers.
  1. The eight-hour work period does not include the meal break. Nowhere in the law may it be inferred that employees must take their meals within the company premises. Employees are not prohibited from going out of the premises as long as they return to their posts on time. Private respondent’s act, therefore, of going home to take his dinner does not constitute abandonment.
  1. In Philippine Graphic Arts, Inc. v. NLRC, the Court upheld for the validity of the reduction of working hours, taking into consideration the following: the arrangement was temporary, it was a more humane solution instead of a retrenchment of personnel, there was notice and consultations with the workers and supervisors, a consensus were reached on how to deal with deteriorating economic conditions and it was sufficiently proven that the company was suffering from losses.
  1. In Odango v. National Labor Relations Commission, the Court ruled that the use of a divisor that was less than 365 days cannot make the employer automatically liable for underpayment of holiday pay. In said case, the employees were required to work only from Monday to Friday and half of Saturday. Thus, the minimum allowable divisor is 287, which is the result of 365 days, less 52 Sundays and less 26 Saturdays (or 52 half Saturdays). Any divisor below 287 days meant that the employees were deprived of their holiday pay for some or all of the ten legal holidays. The 304-day divisor used by the employer was clearly above the minimum of 287 days.

IX. MINIMUM LABOR STANDARD BENEFITS

  1. It is well and good that petitioner was compensated for his overtime services. However, this does not translate into a right on the part of petitioner to demand additional payment when, under the law, petitioner is clearly exempted therefrom.
  1. Petitioner argues essentially that since the work of private respondent is performed away from its principal place of business, it has no way of verifying his actual hours of work on the vessel. It contends that private respondent and other fishermen in its employ should be classified as "field personnel" who have no statutory right to service incentive leave pay. In the case at bar, during the entire course of their fishing voyage, fishermen employed by petitioner have no choice but to remain on board its vessel. Although they perform non-agricultural work away from petitioner’s business offices, the fact remains that throughout the duration of their work, they are under the effective control and supervision of petitioner through the vessel’s patron or master as the NLRC correctly held.
  1. Court held that petitioners are entitled to be paid for two regular holidays which fall on the same day even if they are daily-paid employees since the law does not distinguish between a daily paid and a monthly paid employee.
  1. At this point, it is necessary to stress that the definition of a “field personnel” is not merely concerned with the location where the employee regularly performs his duties but also with the fact that the employee’s performance is unsupervised by the employer.
  1. The Court disagrees with the NLRC's finding that petitioner was a managerial employee. However, petitioner was a member of the managerial staff, which also takes him out of the coverage of labor standards. Like managerial employees, officers and member of the managerial staff are not entitled to the provisions of law on labor standards.

X. OTHER SPECIAL BENEFITS

  1. There are three kinds of retirement schemes. The first type is compulsory and contributory in character. The second type is one set up by agreement between the employer and the employees in collective bargaining agreements or other agreements between them.The third type is one that is voluntarily given by the employer, expressly as in an announced company policy or impliedly as in a failure to contest the employee's claim for retirement benefits. It is this third type of retirement scheme which covers respondent’s Plan.

XI. RIGHT TO SECURITY OF TENURE

  1. However, with respect to the first two kinds of employees, the principal test for determining whether an employee is a project employee or a regular employee is whether or not the project employee was assigned to carry out a “specific project or undertaking,” the duration and scope of which were specified at the time the employee was engaged for that period.
  1. The repeated rehiring of respondent workers and the continuing need for their services clearly attest to the necessity or desirability of their services in the regular conduct of the business or trade of petitioner company.
  1. The primary standard to determine a regular employment is the reasonable connection between the particular activity performed by the employee in relation to the business or trade of the employer. The test is whether the former is usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer. If the employee has been performing the job for at least one year, even if the performance is not continuous or merely intermittent, the law deems the repeated and continuing need for its performance as sufficient evidence of the necessity, if not indispensability of that activity to the business of the employer. Hence, the employment is also considered regular, but only with respect to such activity and while such activity exists. The law does not provide the qualification that the employee must first be issued a regular appointment or must be declared as such before he can acquire a regular employee status.
  1. Our computation of the 6-month probationary period is reckoned from the date of appointment up to the same calendar date of the 6th month following. In short, since the number of days in each particular month was irrelevant, petitioner was still a probationary employee when respondent Middleby opted not to "regularize" him on November 20, 1996.
  1. The petitioners were hired as "emergency workers" and assigned as chicken dressers, packers and helpers at the Cainta Processing Plant. The respondent GMC is a domestic corporation engaged in the production and sale of livestock and poultry, and is a distributor of dressed chicken. While the petitioners' employment as chicken dressers is necessary and desirable in the usual business of the respondent, they were employed on a mere temporary basis, since their employment was limited to a fixed period. As such, they cannot be said to be regular employees, but are merely "contractual employees." Consequently, there was no illegal dismissal when the petitioners' services were terminated by reason of the expiration of their contracts. Lack of notice of termination is of no consequence, because when the contract specifies the period of its duration, it terminates on the expiration of such period. A contract for employment for a definite period terminates by its own term at the end of such period.
  1. Each contract provided for an expiration date. Petitioners knew from the beginning that the employment offered to them was not permanent but only for a certain fixed period. They were free to accept or to refuse the offer. When they expressed their acceptance, they bound themselves to the contract. Simply put, petitioners were not regular employees. While their employment as mixers, packers and machine operators was necessary and desirable in the usual business of respondent company, they were employed temporarily only, during periods when there was heightened demand for production.
  1. Yet, this is not to say that part-time teachers may not have security of tenure. The school could not lawfully terminate a part-timer before the end of the agreed period without just cause. But once the period, semester, or term ends, there is no obligation on the part of the school to renew the contract of employment for the next period, semester, or term.
  1. We reiterate, however, that probationary employees enjoy security of tenure, but only within the period of probation. Likewise, an employee on probation can only be dismissed for just cause or when he fails to qualify as a regular employee in accordance with the reasonable standards made known by the employer at the time of his hiring.
  1. On the issue of illegal dismissal, we hold that petitioners failed to adhere to the "two-notice rule" which requires that workers to be dismissed must be furnished with: (1) a notice informing them of the particular acts for which they are being dismissed and (2) a notice advising them of the decision to terminate the employment.
  1. Further, [the CA] is reminded of the jurisprudence that "the character of employment is determined not by stipulations in the contract, but by the nature of the work performed and that "an employee is regular because of the nature of the work and the length of service, not because of the mode or even the reason for hiring them." Thus, the scheme of PLDT in adopting the "Project Employment Agreement" where the [respondent] was made to sign and the design of referring [respondent] to an employment agency undoubtedly bolster its intention of stripping from [respondent] the privileges earned by the status of her [regular] employment.
  1. As Brent pronounces, a fixed-term employment is valid only under certain circumstances, such as when the employee himself insists upon the period, or where the nature of the engagement is such that, without being seasonal or for a specific project, a definite date of termination is a sine qua non.
  1. That petitioners themselves insisted on the one-year fixed-term is not even alleged by respondents. In fact, the sustained desire of each of the petitioners to enter into another employment contract upon the termination of the earlier ones clearly indicates their interest in continuing to work for SMC. Moreover, respondents have not established that the engagement of petitioners’ services, which is not in the nature of a project employment, required a definite date of termination as a sine qua non.
  1. The fact that petitioners were constantly re-hired does not ipso facto establish that they became regular employees. Their respective contracts with respondent show that there were intervals in their employment. As ruled in Palomares v. National Labor Relations Commission,[18] it would be extremely burdensome for their employer to retain them as permanent employees and pay them wages even if there were no projects to work on.

XII. MANAGEMENT PREROGATIVE

  1. The Supreme Court ruled that an employee cannot be promoted, even if merely as a result of a transfer, without his consent. There is no law that compels an employee to accept a promotion for the reason that a promotion is in the nature of a gift or reward, which a person has a right to refuse.
  1. A transfer is a movement from one position to another of equivalent rank, level or salary, without break in the service. Promotion, on the other hand, is the advancement from one position to another with an increase in duties and responsibilities as authorized by law, and usually accompanied by an increase in salary. While it may be true that the right to transfer or reassign an employee is an employer's exclusive right and the prerogative of management, such right is not absolute. The right of an employer to freely select or discharge his employee is limited by the paramount police power for the relations between capital and labor are not merely contractual but impressed with public interest. And neither capital nor labor shall act oppressively against each other.
  1. Constructive dismissal is defined as an involuntary resignation resorted to when continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely; when there is a demotion in rank or a diminution of pay; or when a clear discrimination, insensibility or disdain by an employer becomes unbearable to the employee. He adds that the reshuffling of employees was done in bad faith, because it was designed primarily to force him to resign.
  1. An employee’s right to security of tenure does not give him such a vested right in his position as would deprive the company of its prerogative to change his assignment or transfer him where he will be most useful. When his transfer is not unreasonable, nor inconvenient, nor prejudicial to him, and it does not involve a demotion in rank or a diminution of his salaries, benefits, and other privileges, the employee may not complain that it amounts to a constructive dismissal.
  1. Since the finding of a bona fide occupational qualification justifies an employer’s no-spouse rule, the exception is interpreted strictly and narrowly. There must be a compelling business necessity for which no alternative exists other than the discriminatory practice. To justify a bona fide occupational qualification, the employer must prove two factors: (1) that the employment qualification is reasonably related to the essential operation of the job involved; and, (2) that there is a factual basis for believing that all or substantially all persons meeting the qualification would be unable to properly perform the duties of the job.
  1. A post-retirement competitive employment restriction is designed to protect the employer against competition by former employees who may retire and obtain retirement or pension benefits and, at the same time, engage in competitive employment. In case of failure to comply with the promise not to accept competitive employment within one year from February 28, 1995, respondent will have a cause of action against petitioner for “protection in the courts of law.”

XIII. TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT

  1. The SC held that illegally dismissed employees were entitled to full back wages that should not be diminished or reduced by the amount they had earned from another employment during the period of their illegal dismissal. While litigating, employees must still earn a living. Furthermore, as penalty for their illegal dismissal, their employers must pay them full back wages.
  1. The Supreme Court upheld in the very recent case of Agabon vs. NLRC the validity of the dismissal despite non-compliance with the notice requirement of the Labor Code. However, it required the employer to pay the dismissed employees the amount of P30,000.00, representing nominal damages for non-compliance with statutory due process.
  1. There are two grounds to legally terminate a probationary employee. It may be done either: a) for a just cause or b) when employee fails to qualify as a regular employee in accordance with reasonable standards made known by the employer to the employee at the start of the employment. Petitioners say that Agustin was terminated because he failed to qualify as a regular employee.
  1. The SC held that respondent Javier’s absence from August 9, 1995 cannot be deemed as an abandonment of his work. Abandonment is a matter of intention and cannot lightly be inferred or legally presumed from certain equivocal acts.
  1. The SC held that it would be best to award separation pay instead of reinstatement, in view of the strained relations between petitioner and respondents. In fact, while petitioner prayed for reinstatement, he also admitted that there is a “strained relationship now prevailing between him and respondents. Under the doctrine of strained relations, the payment of separation pay has been considered an acceptable alternative to reinstatement when the latter option is no longer desirable or viable.

XIV. SUSPENSION OF BUSINESS OPERATIONS

  1. The SC held that petitioner was constructively dismissed but not under Article 286. Contrary to the facts of this case, article 286 applies only when there is a bona fide suspension of the employer's operation of a business or undertaking for a period not exceeding six (6) months. In such a case, there is no termination of employment but only a temporary displacement of employees, albeit the displacement should not exceed six (6) months. The paramount consideration should be the dire exigency of the business of the employer that compels it to put some of its employees temporarily out of work.

XV. DISEASE AS GROUND FOR TERMINATION

  1. The rule is explicit. For a dismissal on the ground of disease to be considered valid, two requisites must concur: (a) the employee suffers from a disease which cannot be cured within six months and his continued employment is prohibited by law or prejudicial to his health or to the health of his co-employees, and (b) a certification to that effect must be issued by a competent public health authority.
  1. The employer, before it can legally dismiss its employee on the ground of disease, must adduce a certification from a competent public authority that the disease of which its employee is suffering is of such nature or at such a stage that it cannot be cured within a period of six months even with proper treatment.

XVI. OTHER CAUSES OF SEVERANCE OF EMPLOYMENT RELATION

  1. It should not be taken to mean that retirement provisions agreed upon in the CBA are absolutely beyond the ambit of judicial review and nullification. A CBA, as a labor contract, is not merely contractual in nature but impressed with public interest. If the retirement provisions in the CBA run contrary to law, public morals, or public policy, such provisions may very well be voided. Certainly, a CBA provision or employment contract that would allow management to subvert security of tenure and allow it to unilaterally “retire” employees after one month of service cannot be upheld. Neither will the Court sustain a retirement clause that entitles the retiring employee to benefits less than what is guaranteed under Article 287 of the Labor Code, pursuant to the provision’s express proviso thereto in the provision.
  1. However, after reviewing the assailed decision together with the rules and regulations of respondent’s retirement plan, we find that the plan runs afoul of the constitutional guaranty of security of tenure contained in Article XIII, also known as the provision on Social Justice and Human Rights. A perusal of the rules and regulations of the plan shows that participation therein was not voluntary at all. Retirement is the result of a bilateral act of the parties, a voluntary agreement between the employer and the employee whereby the latter, after reaching a certain age agrees to sever his or her employment with the former.

XVII. PRESCRIPTION OF CLAIMS

  1. The cause of action accrues until the party obligated refuses to comply with his duty. Being warded off by promises, the workers not having decided to assert their rights, their causes of action had not accrued. Since the parties had continued their negotiations even after the matter was raised before the Grievance Procedure and the voluntary arbitration, the respondents had not refused to comply with their duty.
  1. Article 291 covers all money claims from employer-employee relationship and is broader in scope than claims arising from a specific law. It is not limited to money claims recoverable under the Labor Code, but applies also to claims of overseas contract workers. Article 291 provides that all money claims arising from employer-employee relations shall be filed within three years from the time the cause of action accrued, otherwise, these shall be forever barred. A cause of action accrues upon the categorical denial of claim. Petitioner’s cause of action accrued only on January 6, 1998, when Avantgarde denied his claim and so breached its obligation to petitioner. Petitioner could not have a cause of action prior to this because his earlier requests were warded off by indefinite promises. The complaint filed on March 2, 2001 is beyond the three-year period mandated by the Labor Code.
  1. In illegal dismissal cases, the employee concerned is given a period of four years from the time of his dismissal within which to institute a complaint. This is based on Article 1146 of the New Civil Code which states that actions based upon an injury to the rights of the plaintiff must be brought within four years. The four-year prescriptive period shall commence to run only upon the accrual of a cause of action of the worker. It is settled that in illegal dismissal cases, the cause of action accrues from the time the employment of the worker was unjustly terminated. Thus, the four-year prescriptive period shall be counted and computed from the date of the employee’s dismissal up to the date of the filing of complaint for unlawful termination of employment.

XVIII. JURISDICTION OF THE LABOR ARBITER

  1. The SC held that the NLRC and the labor arbiter had no jurisdiction over petitioner’s claim for damages, because that ruling was based on a quasi delict or tort per Article 2176 of the Civil Code. After carefully examining the complaint/position paper of petitioner, we are convinced that the allegations therein are in the nature of an action based on a quasidelict or tort.
  1. Under the Labor Code, the provision which governs the dismissal of employees, is comprehensive enough to include religious corporations, such as the SDA, in its coverage. Article 278 of the Labor Code on post-employment states that “the provisions of this Title shall apply to all establishments or undertakings, whether for profit or not.” Obviously, the cited article does not make any exception in favor of a religious corporation.
  1. The SC held that the RTC has jurisdiction. Case law has it that the nature of an action and the subject matter thereof, as well as which court has jurisdiction over the same, are determined by the material allegations of the complaint and the reliefs prayed for in relation to the law involved. Not every controversy or money claim by an employee against the employer or vice-versa is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the labor arbiter. A money claim by a worker against the employer or vice-versa is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the labor arbiter only if there is a “reasonable causal connection” between the claim asserted and employee-employer relation. Absent such a link, the complaint will be cognizable by the regular courts of justice.
  1. The Labor Arbiter has jurisdiction over the case as the complaint alleges unfair labor practice which is one of those enumerated in Article 217 of the Labor Code (jurisdiction of Labor Arbiters).
  1. Where the employer-employee relationship is merely incidental and the cause of action proceeds from a different source of obligation, the Court has not hesitated to uphold the jurisdiction of the regular courts. Where the damages claimed for were based on tort, malicious prosecution, or breach of contract, as when the claimant seeks to recover a debt from a former employee or seeks liquidated damages in the enforcement of a prior employment contract, the jurisdiction of regular courts was upheld. The scenario that obtains in this case is obviously different. The allegations in private respondent’s complaint unmistakably relate to the manner of her alleged illegal dismissal.
Tags: Labor Law

Monday, January 21, 2008

Midterms period

It's been a while since I've posted in this blog. I have been busy with both work and studies. It's midterms period in our school at this time. I'd just like to share a poem-cum-prayer I culled from somewhere.

I Asked God

I asked God to take away my pride
and God said “no”
He said it is not for him to take away
but for me to give up.

I asked God to grant me patience,
and said “no”
He said patience is a by-product of tribulations,
It isn’t granted, it is earned.

I asked God to give me happiness,
and God said “no”
He said He gives me blessings,
happiness is up to me.

I asked God to spare me pain,
and God said “no”
He said suffering draws you apart from worldly cares
and brings you closer to Me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow,
and God said “no”
He said I must grow on my own,
But he will prune me to make me fruitful.

I asked God if He loves me,
and God said “yes”
I asked God to help me love others
as much as He loves me,
and God said “ah, finally you have the idea”.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mozart and Enya

When I study, I listen to Mozart, this stimulates my mind. After studying and just before taking an exam, I listen to Enya, this relaxes me and prepares me for the battle ahead.

Tags: Bar Tips

Commercial Law Exam on Insurance was a breeze... or so I think...

I hope my good feeling after the exam will be coupled by good results later. It's just a relief after spending several stolen office hours of studying the Insurance Code for three days, that I felt like I did well with that exam. As usual I came into the exam with little confidence because perhaps unlike my well-prepared full-time law classmates, we working students are always not well-prepared enough. But I came in drunken master fighting stance. Never ever feel intimidated.

There were many basic questions on insurable interest and parties to an insurance contract. Or was it really basic just as I thought it was? My professor has many tricks in his sleeves, maybe I just fell into his sadomasochistic traps. The drunken master* is up to the challenge prof.

*The drunken master stance, incoherent and out of poise, allows my cluttered, crunch-time-induced brain to work my exam answers out into a potent brew.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Studying, my way

One of the important lessons I learned in this long haul of preparation for the bar exam is knowing myself, my style, my temperaments. I know I can't stay glued on my study chair for more than an hour, I easily get bored. Discipline dictates I should study for long hours if I am to cover all subject matters. But do I really have to stay stuck on my chair for the whole time, reading silently, filling my book with multi-colored lines? No way!

If I am to study for long hours I'll do it my way. After every 45 minutes, I take a 15 minute break. The discipline there is that 15 minutes is 15 minutes, no more no less. If I get tired of reading, I sing what I read like lyrics of a country folk song. Or I rap it. I pretend like I'm a bar reviewer, an expert in law lecturing to bar reviewees. I talk to myself. That's me. Since high school I am like that, I sing, I lecture, I talk out loud when I'm studying. And I give myself exams after. It usually works!

I have an exam in Commercial Law review later tonight. I'm just on a 15-minute break. Wish me luck!

Tags: Bar Tips

Law Books Price List (Rex Bookstore)

Effective SY 2007-2008 (Prices may change)
Source: Rex Bookstore Pricelist 2007 (not a complete list)

COQUIA
Legal Profession 3rd ed. 476.00
Readings in Legal Philosophy & Theory 4th ed. 382.00

BOADO
Comprehensive Review in Criminal Law 4th ed. 742.00
Notes & Cases on the Revised Penal Code 2nd ed. 1,187.00
Notes & Cases on the Revised Penal Code 4th ed. 1,405.00

BERNAS
The 1987 Phil. Constitution: A Comprehensive Reviewer 6th ed. 696.00
Constitutional Structures & Powers 5th ed. 1,819.00
The 1987 Phil. Constitution: A Reviewer Primer 2nd ed. 715.00
The Intent of the 1986 Constitutional Writer 1,299.00
The 1987 Constitution of the RP with Commentary 1,039.00

BALGOS
Handbook on the Law on Pleadings 3rd ed. 531.00

BAUTISTA
Basic Civil Procedure 6th ed. 546.00
Basic Evidence 4th ed. 679.00
Basic Special Proceedings 4th ed. 445.00
Remedial Law Quizzer c/b 4th ed. 612.00
Remedial Law Quizzer p/b 4th ed. 489.00

BARBASO
Civil Procedure Made Easy 5th ed. 506.00

BALBASTRO
Trial Technique & Practice 362.00
Handbook on Jurisdiction of SEC 332.00

AQUINO
Land Registration and Related Laws 2nd ed. 786.00
Notes & Cases on Banks, Negotiable Instruments 6th ed. 1,455.00
Torts & Damages 5th ed. 1,326.00
Reviewer on Commercial Law p/b 6th ed. 731.00
Reviewer on Commercial Law c/b 6th ed. 876.00

AZUCENA
Everyone's Labor Code 6th ed. 642.00
The Labor Code vol. 1 4th ed. 927.00
The Labor Code vol. 2 4th ed. 1,113.00

AMADOR
Patents Under the Intellectual Property Code 1st ed. 1,214.00
Trademarks Under the Intellectual Property Code 715.00
Copyright Under the Intellectual Property Code 749.00

ALANO
Handbook on Preliminary Investigation and Inquest 7th ed. 510.00

AGPALO
Comments on the Omnibus Election Code 4th ed. 1,198.00
Phil. Administrative Law 4th ed. 927.00
Handbook on Civil Procedure 1st ed. 1,285.00
Legal Ethics 2nd ed. 1,064.00
Handbook on Evidence 3rd ed. 755.00
Handbook on Special Proceedings 3rd ed. 706.00
Comments on the Code of Professional Responsibility 4th ed. 1,051.00
Handbook on Criminal Procedure 4th ed. 1,013.00
Conflicts of Laws 4th ed. 1,113.00
Administrative Law c/b 5th ed. 1,130.00
Administrative Law p/b 5th ed. 979.00
Public International Law 6th ed. 915.00
Legal Forms 6th ed. 1,132.00

ABUEL
Bar Review Methods & Techniques 3rd ed. 170.00

AGGRA
The Phil. Party List System 97th ed. 118.00

ALAUYA
Fundamentals of Islamic Jurisprudence 99th ed. 396.00

ALBANO
Pre-week in Remedial Law 3rd ed. 831.00
Remedial Law Reviewer 4th ed. 1,883.00
Civil Law Reviewer 4th ed. 1,295.00
Legal and Judicial Ethics 4th ed. 679.00
Persons and Family Relation 6th ed. 1,107.00


to be continued...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Pressure is showing its ugly head

I could count months just before the bar exam this year. I'm not even sure now if I would take it this year. By March I have to decide though. It really depends if I pass all my subjects this semester because if I have to take summer classes just to graduate in time for the bar, I might run out of time to prepare adequately.

For now, my focus is to pass all my subjects this sem. Unfortunately, two of those subjects, Civil Law and Commercial Law review, I'm having a difficult time with, largely because of the archaic method and style it's being handled. Then again I just have to survive this one, maybe I'll see the value in it once I'm into the bar exam and practice. But what really is the value of mastering (memorizing) legal provisions to the letter outside the context of actual decided cases? Tell that to my prof. But as one slogan goes: Just do it! Graduate this semester.

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