I own a hairdressing salon with three senior hairstylists. Each of my hairstylists is employed under a contract which specifically provides that they will be working for me exclusively for two years. One day, one of my hairstylists failed to go to work without any prior notice and since then failed to return for work despite being employed for only eight months. I later found out that he was pirated by a rival hair salon near our place. I want to know if I can file any action against my hairstylist for leaving me so suddenly, and if possible, also against my rival hair salon for pirating him. I hope you can enlighten me on this matter.
Based from your narration, both your hairstylist and the owner of your rival hair salon may be held liable for the damages that they may have caused you.
With regard to your hairstylist, his decision to suddenly leave your salon contravenes with the agreement stated in the employment contract that he will work for you for two years. As such, he may be liable for breach of contract to which you may claim damages for, in accordance with the provision of the Civil Code of the Philippines which states that:
“Article 1170. Those who in the performance of their obligations are guilty of fraud, negligence, or delay, and those who in any manner contravene the tenor thereof, are liable for damages.”
The employment contract is a valid agreement between you and your hairstylist. His failure to fulfill his obligation of working for you for two (2) years without any justification is a clear contravention of your agreement which makes him liable for the damages he may have caused to your business.
On the other hand, the owner of your rival hair salon may be liable for what is called a contractual interference. This occurs when a third party who is not party to a contract interferes in a valid agreement between two parties by inducing one of the parties to violate the contract.
According to the Civil Code of the Philippines, “(a)ny third person who induces another to violate his contract shall be liable for damages to the other contracting party” (Article 1314).
Based from jurisprudence, a person can be held liable for contractual interference when there is: (1) existence of a valid contract; (2) knowledge on the part of the third person of the existence of a contract; and (3) interference of the third person is without legal justification. (Go vs. Cordero, G.R. No. 164703, May 4, 2010).
Thus, in your situation, despite having a valid contract between you and your hairstylist, you will still have to prove that your rival salon was aware of such contract and despite it, interfered in your said agreement by inducing your hairstylist to work for him.
Furthermore, since a claim for damages against the third party and your hair stylist is based on tort, they will be solidarily liable for your claim for damages should it be proven that they are indeed guilty of contractual interference.
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 email@example.com