I am an OFW, employed as a senior surveillance operator by a company located in the Dominican Republic. Last year, while on duty, a significant amount of money was stolen from the slot machine of my company. I immediately reported the incident to my superior, but despite the investigation conducted by the management and the police, the perpetrators were not apprehended.
A week after the incident, I was caught by surprise when the company’s administrator told me that they decided to terminate my services. They gave me my final pay, pro-rated 13th month pay, monetary equivalent of my leave credits, and plane ticket to the Philippines. Despite accepting all of these, I felt that my termination was unlawful for lack of any basis, as well as the fact that the company failed to observe due process prior to my termination. I felt singled out as my employment was the only one terminated after the theft that occurred. Do I have rights under the law regarding this?
Please be informed that under Article 288 of the Labor Code, the following are considered just causes for which the services of an employee may be terminated, to wit:
Article 288. Termination by employer – 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.
Furthermore, before an employee may be validly dismissed from work, due process must be observed. Specifically, Article 277 (b) of the Labor Code provides the procedure to be observed in terminating the services of an employee based on just causes, that is:
a. A written notice must be served on the employee specifying the ground or grounds for termination and giving him reasonable opportunity within which to explain his side;
b. A hearing or conference shall be conducted during which the employee concerned, with the assistance of counsel if he so desires, is given an opportunity to respond to the charge, present his evidence or rebut the evidence presented against him; and
c. A written notice of termination must be served on the employee indicating that upon due consideration of all the circumstances, grounds have been established to justify his termination.
The abovementioned provisions may also apply in case the employment contract, duly verified and approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), of an OFW was prematurely terminated.
In this instance, your employer never made clear to you the reason for the termination of your employment. They also never involved you in the investigation that was conducted and did not ask you to provide an explanation, written or verbal, regarding the theft that occurred. Thus, it appears that your employment was unjustly terminated. In this light, you may appropriately lodge a case against them and your agency before the POEA and/or the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org