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March 11, 2015 | J. Perlas-Bernabe | Illegal Dismissal
Digester: Alexis Bea
SUMMARY: Maria Theresa Sanchez was a nurse
caught leaving with a pouch of medical supplies. She
wrote a letter in the security office admitting to the
deed and apologizing. The practice of hoarding is
tolerated by the hospital. She was terminated from
work and filed for a case of illegal dismissal.
DOCTRINE: Employers have the right to regulate all
aspects of employment. Management prerogative
includes disciplinary measures. Willful disobedience
justifies termination.

On June 29, 2009,Maria Theresa Sanchez was hired as a

Staff Nurse in the Pediatric Unit of the St. Lukes Medical
Center, Quezon City.
On May 29, 2011, after her shift, she passed through the
SLMC Centralization Entrance/Exit where she was
subjected to the standard inspection procedure. In the
course thereof, Security Guard Jaime Manzanade
discovered in her bag a pouch containing medical supplies
(10 syringes of various sizes, 1 Micropore, 1 pack of cotton
balls, 1 pc Neoflon, 2 pcs Venofix, and 4 pcs gloves).
Sanchez asked if she could return the pouch inside the
treatment room, but the guard refused and confiscated the
pouch instead. She was brought to the In-House Security
Department (IHSD) where she wrote an incident report and
submitted a handwritten letter of apology. In her letter, she
admitted she intentionally brought out the items despite
knowing it is against SLMCs rules.
SLMC was apprised of the incident and an investigation
was conducted. Asked to explain her side, Sanchez
submitted an Incident Report Addendum, stating that the
medical supplies were the excess stocks from the
medication drawers of discharged patients which the staff
members save as backup in case of emergencies. She just
failed to return the pouch inside the medication drawer on
the day of the incident.

Sanchez was preventively suspended until the conclusion of

the investigation. A case conference was held, and on July
6, 2011, she was dismissed for violating SLMCs Code of
Discipline, Sec. 1, Rule 1 on Acts of Dishonesty (i.e.
Robbery, Theft, Pilferage, and Misappropriation of Funds).
Sanchez filed a case for illegal dismissal, arguing 1) she did
not intend to bring the items outside SLMC, 2) she cannot
be guilty of pilferage since the items were neither SLMC
not its employees property, and 3) SLMC did not file
criminal charges against her.
The Labor Arbiter (LA) held that Sanchez was validly
dismissed. The NLRC reversed the LA, holding that SLMC
illegally dismissed Sanchez. The CA affirmed this decision,
hence, this petition by SLMC assailing the NLRC and CA

RULING: Petition granted.

WON Sanchez was illegally dismissed by SLMC


Sanchez was validly dismissed by SLMC for her willful

disregard and disobedience of the SLMC Code of
Discipline. Despite her knowledge of the prohibition under
this code, she knowingly brought out the supplies with her.
SLMC cannot be faulted in construing the taking of the
questioned items as an act of dishonesty (particularly theft
or pilferage) considering the intent to gain may be
reasonably presumed from the furtive taking of useful
property appertaining to another. It is immaterial that these
supplies were excess stocks because they should have been
turned over to the hospital as a matter of policy.
Employers have the right to regulate all aspect of
employment. This management prerogative, includes the
right to prescribe reasonable rules and regulations
necessary or proper for conduct of its business or concern,
to provide certain disciplinary measures to implement said
rules, and to assure that the same would be complied with.
Employees, in turn, have the corollary duty to obey all
reasonable rules, orders, and instructions of the employer;
and willfull or intentional disobedience thereto justifies
termination of the contract of service and dismissal of
employee. Hence, Sanchez willfull disobedience is just
cause for her termination.

It is immaterial that no criminal case was filed because

criminal and labor cases involving an emplyee arising from
the same infraction are separate and distinct proceedings

which should not arrest any judgment from one to the

other. What is apparent is that she deliberately disregarded
and disobeyed the rules of discipline that she was requires
to observe as a staff nurse and steward of medical supplies.