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Saturday, December 24, 2011

MCDONALD’S (KATIPUNAN BRANCH) and/or MCGEORGE FOOD INDUSTRIES, INC. vs. MA. DULCE ALBA

G.R. No. 156382 
December 18, 2008

Ma. Dulce Alba was hired as part of the service crew of petitioner. Their handbook prohibits them from doing certain acts like sampling uncompleted/completed products during operations while crew is on duty. Rizza Santiago, also a crew member, witnessed respondent eating inside the crew room while on duty. Respondent was then suspended.

Explaining her act, respondent claimed in writing that she asked her co-worker if she could have a piece of her chicken since she was hungry and that her stomach was aching.  Thereafter, Mc Donald's terminated her employment.

The Labor Arbiter found that termination was too harsh and that the suspension was sufficient. 

In petitioner's motion for reconsideration, it presented payroll sheets showing that respondent did not render eight (8) hours of work a day.

Upon appeal, the NLRC  ruled that there was no willful conduct on the part of respondent to violate their company policy. 

The CA affirmed the decision of the NLRC.

Issues:

Was the termination was excessive?
Whether or not a clarificatory hearing should have been conducted by the Labor Arbiter.

Should the payroll sheets presented be given weight by the CA?

On the issue of a clarificatory hearing, This issue was raised for the first time before the appellate court, hence, it may not be considered.  The Labor Arbiter prudently saw it best to dispense with a hearing since the position papers and responsive pleadings, together with the attached documentary evidence, provided more than sufficient bases to resolve the case.Petitioners’ right to due process was thus not violated.

As reflected above, petitioners presented payroll sheets only when they moved for a reconsideration of the NLRC decision.  At any rate, the NLRC did not find those payroll sheets compelling enough to warrant a reversal of its decision.

Payroll sheets are inconclusive to disprove respondent’s eight-hour-per-day work shift.  Instead of payroll sheets, the time cards would have been more reliable.  Petitioners, however, did not present the same.  When a party has in its power to produce evidence that would overthrow the case made against it but fails to do so, the presumption arises that such evidence, if produced, would operate to its prejudice and support the case of the other party

Under Article  282 (a) of the Labor Code, willful disobedience to the employer's lawful orders as a just cause for termination of employment needs the concurrence of at least two requisites, viz: (1) the employee's assailed conduct must have been willful or intentional, the willfulness being characterized by a “wrongful and perverse attitude;” and (2) the order violated must have been reasonable, lawful, made known to the employee and must pertain to the duties which one has been engaged to discharge. 

With respect to serious misconduct, it is not sufficient that the act or the conduct complained of must have violated some established rules or policies.  It must have been performed with wrongful intent.

Petitioners finally harp on the supposed checkered employment record of respondent to justify her dismissal.  The resort by petitioners to respondent’s past conduct is a desultory attempt to explain their drastic action.  Previous offenses may be used as valid justification for dismissal from work only if they are related to the subsequent infraction-basis of the termination of employment. 

Parenthetically, the employment record of respondent reflects her fairly outstanding work ethic and performance, which is punctuated by at least 31 counts of commendations from the management no less.  

In fine, given the totality of respondent’s employment record, the penalty of dismissal is too discordant with the infraction she committed. 





sMiLe!!