• Illegally dismissed employees entitled to back wages

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    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I am an employee of a certain company providing janitorial services in Manila. I have been serving the said company as a utility personnel for the past 23 years up to now that I am already 60 years old.

    One day, while I was working, my manager approached me and told me that since I have already reached the age of 60, I can now file my retirement. They made me sign the documents which were allegedly needed, for me to receive the retirement benefits. They also made me believe that I will receive the benefits if I will also tender a resignation letter. Since I am only an elementary graduate and I do not understand the legal effects of the resignation letter, I submitted the said documents containing what my boss dictated me to write.

    Until now, I have not received any benefit from the company. I found out that there were other previous employees who experienced the same fate. What shall I do? Please help me.
    Monet    

    Dear Monet,
    It is very clear that your employer deceived you to submit the resignation letter. What happened to you is similar to constructive dismissal. You should not be considered resigned because of lack of voluntariness on your part to sever the employer-employee relationship.

    To constitute resignation, the resignation must be unconditional with the intent to operate as such. There must be clear intention to relinquish the position (Blue Angel Manpower and Security Services Inc. vs CA, G. R. No. 161196, July 28, 2008).

    Under Article 282 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 442 as amended, an employer may terminate an employment for any of the following causes: a) Serious Misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or representative in connection with his work; b) Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties; c) Fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative; d) Commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representatives; and e) Other causes analogous to the foregoing. Closure of establishment and reduction of personnel (Article 283, Ibid.) as well as disease (Article 284, Id.) are also other grounds which the employer may consider in terminating the services of employees.

    In your situation, you were illegally dismissed from work because your separation does not fall under any of the abovementioned grounds for terminating an employee. In Blue Angel Manpower and Security Services, Inc., vs CA, (Id.) the Supreme Court said that: “Illegally dismissed employees are entitled to two reliefs, namely: back wages and reinstatement. They are entitled to reinstatement, if viable, or separation pay, if reinstatement is no longer feasible, and back wages. The award of one does not preclude the other as the Court had, in proper cases, ordered the payment of both. Where an employee would have been entitled to reinstatement with full back wages, but circumstances, i.e., strained relationships, make reinstatement impossible, the more equitable disposition would be to award separation pay equivalent to at least one month pay, or one month pay for every year of service, whichever is higher, in addition to full back wages, inclusive of allowances, and benefits or their monetary equivalent, computed from the time the employees compensation was withheld up to the time of the employees actual reinstatement.”

    Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

    We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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    1 Comment

    1. Dear Atty. Acosta/PAO;

      What if the company you sued has closed and.your case is still with the Supreme Court since 2006?

      How can an employee claim his benefits, and back wages if his company already closed. Or at least the site/plant where he worked at closed. The employee won at the NLRC. Same case illegal dismissal.

      Can an.employee make a follow-up at the Supreme Court? How? Who is the person to talk to?