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Legend Hotel (Manila) vs Realuyo AKA Roa

G.R. No. 153511 July 18, 2012

Facts: Respondent averred that he had worked as a pianist at the Legend Hotel’s Tanglaw Restaurant from
September 1992 with an initial rate of P400.00/night that was given to him after each night’s performance; that his
rate had increased to P750.00/night; and that during his employment, he could not choose the time of performance,
which had been fixed from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm for three to six times/week. He added that the Legend Hotel’s
restaurant manager had required him to conform with the venue’s motif; that he had been subjected to the rules on
employees’ representation checks and chits, a privilege granted to other employees; that on July 9, 1999, the
management had notified him that as a cost-cutting measure his services as a pianist would no longer be required
effective July 30, 1999; that he disputed the excuse, insisting that Legend Hotel had been lucratively operating as of
the filing of his complaint; and that the loss of his employment made him bring his complaint.

Issue: Whether or not there is ER-EE relationship.


YES. Petitioner actually wielded the power of selection at the time it entered into the service contract dated
September 1, 1992 with respondent. This is true, notwithstanding petitioner’s insistence that respondent had only
offered his services to provide live music at petitioner’s Tanglaw Restaurant, and despite petitioner’s position that
what had really transpired was a negotiation of his rate and time of availability. The power of selection was firmly
evidenced by, among others, the express written recommendation dated January 12, 1998 by Christine Velazco,
petitioner’s restaurant manager, for the increase of his remuneration.

Respondent’s remuneration, albeit denominated as talent fees, was still considered as included in the term wage in
the sense and context of the Labor Code, regardless of how petitioner chose to designate the remuneration. Anent
this, Article 97(f) of the Labor Code clearly states:

xxx wage paid to any employee shall mean the remuneration or earnings, however designated, capable of being
expressed in terms of money, whether fixed or ascertained on a time, task, piece, or commission basis, or other
method of calculating the same, which is payable by an employer to an employee under a written or unwritten
contract of employment for work done or to be done, or for services rendered or to be rendered, and includes the
fair and reasonable value, as determined by the Secretary of Labor, of board, lodging, or other facilities
customarily furnished by the employer to the employee.

That respondent worked for less than eight hours/day was of no consequence and did not detract from the CA’s
finding on the existence of the employer-employee relationship. In providing that the “normal hours of work of any
employee shall not exceed eight (8) hours a day,” Article 83 of the Labor Code only set a maximum of number of
hours as “normal hours of work” but did not prohibit work of less than eight hours.

The power of the employer to control the work of the employee is considered the most significant determinant of the
existence of an employer-employee relationship. This is the so-called control test, and is premised on whether the
person for whom the services are performed reserves the right to control both the end achieved and the manner and
means used to achieve that end.

A review of the records shows, however, that respondent performed his work as a pianist under petitioner’s
supervision and control. Specifically, petitioner’s control of both the end achieved and the manner and means used
to achieve that end was demonstrated by the following, to wit: a. He could not choose the time of his performance,
which petitioners had fixed from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm, three to six times a week; b. He could not choose the place of
his performance; c. The restaurant’s manager required him at certain times to perform only Tagalog songs or music,
or to wear barong Tagalog to conform to the Filipiniana motif; and d. He was subjected to the rules on employees’
representation check and chits, a privilege granted to other employees. Relevantly, it is worth remembering that the
employer need not actually supervise the performance of duties by the employee, for it sufficed that the employer
has the right to wield that power.


G.R. No. 179654 September 22, 2014


Villegas is an employee at the Hacienda Leddy as early as 1960, when it was still named Hacienda
Teresa. Later on named Hacienda Leddy owned by Ricardo Gamboa Sr., the same was succeeded by
his son Ricardo Gamboa, Jr. During his employment up to the time of his dismissal, Villegas performed
sugar farming job 8 hours a day, 6 days a week work, continuously for not less than 302 days a year, and
for which services he was paid ₱45.00 per day. He likewise worked in petitioner's coconut lumber
business where he was paid ₱34.00 a day for 8 hours work.

On June 9, 1993, Gamboa went toVillegas' house and told him that his services were no longer needed
without prior notice or valid reason. Hence, Villegas filed the instant complaint for illegal dismissal.

The Labor Arbiter found that there was illegal dismissal. On appeal, the NLRC set aside and vacated the
Labor Arbiter's decision. Villegas appealed before the Court of Appeals and sought the annulment of the
Resolutions of the NLRC. The Court of Appeals granted the petition and annulled and set aside the NLRC

Whether or not the respondent cannot be considered as a regular employee.


We deny the petition. The issue of Villegas' alleged illegal dismissal is anchored on the existence of an
employer-employee relationship between him and Gamboa. A perusal of the records would show that
respondent, having been employed in the subject Hacienda while the same was still being managed by
petitioner's father until the latter's death in 1993, is undisputed as the same was even admitted by
Gamboa in his earlier pleadings. While refuting that Villegas was a regular employee, petitioner however
failed to categorically deny that Villegas was indeed employed in their hacienda albeit he insisted that
Villegas was merely a casual employee doing odd jobs.

The rule is long and well settled that, in illegal dismissal cases like the one at bench, the burden of proof
is upon the employer to show that the employee’s termination from service is for a just and valid cause. In
the instant case, if we are to follow the length of time that Villegas had worked with the Gamboas, it
should be more than 20 years of service. Indeed, petitioner's length of service is an indication of the
regularity of his employment. Even assuming that he was doing odd jobs around the farm, such long
period of doing said odd jobs is indicative that the same was either necessary or desirable to petitioner's
trade or business. Owing to the length of service alone, he became a regular employee, by operation of
law, one year after he was employed.

Article 280 of the Labor Code, describes a regular employee as one who is either (1) engaged to perform
activities which are necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer; and (2) those
casual employees who have rendered at least one year of service, whether continuous or broken, with
respect to the activity in which he is employed.
Petitioner admitted that Villegas had worked in the hacienda until his father's demise. Clearly, even
assuming that Villegas' employment was only for a specific duration, the fact that he was repeatedly re-
hired over a long period of time shows that his job is necessary and indispensable to the usual business
or trade of the employer.

To justify a finding of abandonment of work, there must be proof of a deliberate and unjustified refusal on
the part of an employee to resume his employment. The burden of proof is on the employer to show an
unequivocal intent on the part of the employee to discontinue employment. Mere absence is not sufficient.
It must be accompanied by manifest acts unerringly pointing to the fact that the employee simply does not
want to work anymore. Petitioner failed to discharge this burden. On the contrary, the filing of the instant
illegal dismissal complaint negates any intention on his part to sever their employment relationship.

All these having discussed, as a regular worker, Villegas is entitled to security of tenure under Article 279
of the Labor Code and can only be removed for cause. We found no valid cause attending to his
dismissal and found also that his dismissal was without due process.

People's Broadcasting Service (Bombo Radyo Phils., Inc.) Vs. The Secretary Of The
Department Of Labor And Employment

G.R. No. 179652 March 6, 2012


Private respondent Jandeleon Juezan filed a complaint against petitioner with the Department of
Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Office No. VII, Cebu City, for illegal deduction,
nonpayment of service incentive leave, 13th month pay, premium pay for holiday and rest day
and illegal diminution of benefits, delayed payment of wages and non-coverage of SSS, PAG-
IBIG and Philhealth. After the conduct of summary investigations and after the parties submitted
their position papers, the DOLE Regional Director found that private respondent was an
employee of petitioner, and was entitled to his money claims. Petitioner sought reconsideration
of the Director’s Order, but failed. The Acting DOLE Secretary dismissed petitioner’s appeal on
the ground that petitioner submitted a Deed of Assignment of Bank Deposit instead of posting a
cash or surety bond. When the matter was brought before the CA, where petitioner claimed that
it had been denied due process, it was held that petitioner was accorded due process as it had
been given the opportunity to be heard, and that the DOLE Secretary had jurisdiction over the
matter, as the jurisdictional limitation imposed by Article 129 of the Labor Code on the power of
the DOLE Secretary under Art. 128(b) of the Code had been repealed by Republic Act No. (RA)

In the Decision of this Court, the CA Decision was reversed and set aside, and the complaint
against petitioner was dismissed. The National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) was held
to be the primary agency in determining the existence of an employer-employee relationship.
This was the interpretation of the Court of the clause "in cases where the relationship of
employer-employee still exists" in Art. 128(b).
May the DOLE make a determination of whether or not an employer-employee
relationship exists, and if so, to what extent?


No limitation in the law was placed upon the power of the DOLE to determine the existence of
an employer-employee relationship. No procedure was laid down where the DOLE would only
make a preliminary finding, that the power was primarily held by the NLRC. The law did not say
that the DOLE would first seek the NLRC’s determination of the existence of an employer-
employee relationship, or that should the existence of the employer-employee relationship be
disputed, the DOLE would refer the matter to the NLRC. The DOLE must have the power to
determine whether or not an employer-employee relationship exists, and from there to decide
whether or not to issue compliance orders in accordance with Art. 128(b) of the Labor Code, as
amended by RA 7730.

The DOLE, in determining the existence of an employer-employee relationship, has a ready set
of guidelines to follow, the same guide the courts themselves use. The elements to determine the
existence of an employment relationship are: (1) the selection and engagement of the employee;
(2) the payment of wages; (3) the power of dismissal; (4) the employer’s power to control the
employee’s conduct. The use of this test is not solely limited to the NLRC. The DOLE Secretary,
or his or her representatives, can utilize the same test, even in the course of inspection, making
use of the same evidence that would have been presented before the NLRC.

If a complaint is brought before the DOLE to give effect to the labor standards provisions of the
Labor Code or other labor legislation, and there is a finding by the DOLE that there is an existing
employer-employee relationship, the DOLE exercises jurisdiction to the exclusion of the NLRC.
If the DOLE finds that there is no employer-employee relationship, the jurisdiction is properly
with the NLRC. If a complaint is filed with the DOLE, and it is accompanied by a claim for
reinstatement, the jurisdiction is properly with the Labor Arbiter, under Art. 217(3) of the Labor
Code, which provides that the Labor Arbiter has original and exclusive jurisdiction over those
cases involving wages, rates of pay, hours of work, and other terms and conditions of
employment, if accompanied by a claim for reinstatement. If a complaint is filed with the NLRC,
and there is still an existing employer-employee relationship, the jurisdiction is properly with the
DOLE. The findings of the DOLE, however, may still be questioned through a petition for
certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

The exercise of the DOLE’s visitorial and enforcement power, the Labor Secretary or the latter’s
authorized representative shall have the power to determine the existence of an employer-
employee relationship, to the exclusion of the NLRC.
G.R. No. 171212 August 4, 2014


Petitioner Indophil Textile Mills, Inc. is a domestic corporation engaged in the business of
manufacturing thread for weaving.3 On August 21, 1990, petitioner hired respondent Engr. Salvador
Adviento as Civil Engineer to maintain its facilities in Lambakin, Marilao, Bulacan. 4 On August 7,
2002, respondent consulted a physician due to recurring weakness and dizziness.5 Few days later,
he was diagnosed with Chronic Poly Sinusitis, and thereafter, with moderate, severe and persistent
Allergic Rhinitis.6 Accordingly, respondent was advised by his doctor to totally avoid house dust mite
and textile dust as it will transmute into health problems.

Distressed, respondent filed a complaint against petitioner with the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC), San Fernando, Pampanga, for alleged illegal dismissal and for the payment of
backwages, separation pay, actual damages and attorney’s fees.

Subsequently, respondent filed another Complaint9 with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Aparri,
Cagayan, alleging that he contracted such occupational disease by reason of the gross negligence
of petitioner to provide him with a safe, healthy and workable environment.

Respondent alleged that as part of his job description, he conducts regular maintenance check on
petitioner’s facilities including its dye house area, which is very hot and emits foul chemical odor with
no adequate safety measures introduced by petitioner.10 According to respondent, the air washer
dampers and all roof exhaust vests are blown into open air, carrying dust thereto.11 Concerned,
respondent recommended to management to place roof insulation to minimize, if not, eradicate the
health hazards attendant in the work place.12 However, said recommendation was turned down by
management due to high cost.

In reply, petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss22 on the ground that: (1) the RTC has no jurisdiction over
the subject matter of the complaint because the same falls under the original and exclusive
jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiter (LA) under Article 217(a)(4) of the Labor Code; and (2) there is
another action pending with the Regional Arbitration Branch III of the NLRC in San Fernando City,
Pampanga, involving the same parties for the same cause.

On December 29, 2003, the RTC issued a Resolution23 denying the aforesaid Motion and sustaining
its jurisdiction over the instant case. It held that petitioner’s alleged failure to provide its employees
with a safe, healthy and workable environment is an act of negligence, a case of quasi-delict. As
such, it is not within the jurisdiction of the LA under Article 217 of the Labor Code.

On February 9, 2004, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration thereto, which was likewise denied
in an Order issued on even date.

Petitioner then filed a Petition for Certiorari with the CA on the ground that the RTC committed grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in upholding that it has jurisdiction
over the subject matter of the complaint despite the broad and clear terms of Article 217 of the Labor
Code, as amended.26

After the submission by the parties of their respective Memoranda, the CA rendered a
Decision27 dated May 30, 2005 dismissing petitioner’s Petition for lack of merit.
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration which was nevertheless denied for lack of merit in the
CA’s Resolution29 dated January 10, 2006.

Whether or not the RTC has jurisdiction over the subject matter of respondent’s complaint praying
for moral damages, exemplary damages, compensatory damages, anchored on petitioner’s alleged
gross negligence in failing to provide a safe and healthy working environment for respondent.

While we have upheld the present trend to refer worker-employer controversies to labor courts in
light of the aforequoted provision, we have also recognized that not all claims involving employees
can be resolved solely by our labor courts, specifically when the law provides otherwise.36 For this
reason, we have formulated the "reasonable causal connection rule," wherein if there is a
reasonable causal connection between the claim asserted and the employer-employee relations,
then the case is within the jurisdiction of the labor courts; and in the absence thereof, it is the regular
courts that have jurisdiction.

Jurisprudence has evolved the rule that claims for damages under Article 217(a)(4) of the Labor
Code, to be cognizable by the LA, must have a reasonable causal connection with any of the claims
provided for in that article.43Only if there is such a connection with the other claims can a claim for
damages be considered as arising from employer-employee relations.44

In the case at bench, we find that such connection is nil.

Respondent’s claim for damages is specifically grounded on petitioner’s gross negligence to provide
a safe, healthy and workable environment for its employees −a case of quasi-delict. This is easily
ascertained from a plain and cursory reading of the Complaint,45 which enumerates the acts and/or
omissions of petitioner relative to the conditions in the workplace.

(Note: Reasonable causal connection ang topic ani, page 3, No. 3.4, la ko kasabot unsay


The cause of action is based on a quasi-delictor tort, which has no reasonable causal connection
with any of the claims provided for in Article 217, jurisdiction over the action is with the regular

Injury and damages were allegedly suffered by respondent, an element of quasi-delict. The previous
contract of employment between petitioner and respondent cannot be used to counter the element of
"no pre-existing contractual relation" since petitioner’s alleged gross negligence in maintaining a
hazardous work environment cannot be considered a mere breach of such contract of employment,
but falls squarely within the elements of quasi-delictunder Article 2176 of the Civil Code since the
negligence is direct, substantive and independent.

Where the resolution of the dispute requires expertise, not in labor management relations nor in
wage structures and other terms and conditions of employment, but rather in the application of the
general civil law, such claim falls outside the area of competence of expertise ordinarily ascribed to
the LA and the NLRC.59

Guided by the aforequoted doctrines, we find no reason to reverse the findings of the CA. The RTC
has jurisdiction over the subject matter of respondent's complaint praying for moral damages,
exemplary damages, compensatory damages, anchored on petitioner's alleged gross negligence in
failing to provide a safe and healthy working environment for respondent.

SMART COMMUNICATIONS, INC. vs. ASTORGA G.R. No. 148132 January 28, 2008
, (JULY 5, 2018)


Regina M. Astorga (Astorga) was employed by respondent Smart Communications,

Incorporated (SMART) on May 8, 1997 as District Sales Manager of the Corporate
Sales Marketing Group/ Fixed Services Division (CSMG/FSD). She was receiving a
monthly salary of P33,650.00. As District Sales Manager, Astorga enjoyed additional
benefits, namely, annual performance incentive equivalent to 30% of her annual gross
salary, a group life and hospitalization insurance coverage, and a car plan in the
amount of P455,000.00.

SMART launched an organizational realignment to achieve more efficient operations.

Part of the reorganization was the outsourcing of the marketing and sales force. Thus,
SMART formed SMART-NTT Multimedia, Incorporated (SNMI). Since SNMI was formed
to do the sales and marketing work, SMART abolished the CSMG/FSD, Astorga’s

SNMI agreed to absorb the CSMG personnel who would be recommended by SMART.
Astorga landed last in the performance evaluation, thus, she was not recommended by
SMART. SMART, nonetheless, offered her a supervisory position in the Customer Care
Department, but she refused the offer because the position carried lower salary rank
and rate.

Astorga continued reporting for work. SMART issued a memorandum advising Astorga
of the termination of her employment on ground of redundancy.

Astorga filed a Complaint for illegal dismissal, non-payment of salaries and other
benefits with prayer for moral and exemplary damages against SMART.

SMART sent a letter to Astorga demanding that she pay the current market value of the
Honda Civic Sedan which was given to her under the company’s car plan program, or to
surrender the same to the company for proper disposition.

Astorga, however, failed and refused to do either, thus prompting SMART to file a suit
for replevin before the RTC which was subsequently denied.

Astorga moved to dismiss the complaint on grounds of (i) lack of jurisdiction; (ii) failure
to state a cause of action; (iii) litis pendentia; and (iv) forum-shopping. Astorga posited
that the regular courts have no jurisdiction over the complaint because the subject
thereof pertains to a benefit arising from an employment contract; hence, jurisdiction
over the same is vested in the labor tribunal and not in regular courts.
On March 29, 1999, the RTC issued an Order16 denying Astorga’s motion to dismiss the
replevin case.

As correctly pointed out, this case is to enforce a right of possession over a company
car assigned to the defendant under a car plan privilege arrangement. The car is
registered in the name of the plaintiff. Recovery thereof via replevin suit is allowed by
Rule 60 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which is undoubtedly within the
jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court.

Astorga filed a motion for reconsideration, but the RTC denied it on June 18, 1999.
Astorga elevated the denial of her motion via certiorari to the CA, which, in its February
28, 2000 Decision,19reversed the RTC ruling. Granting the petition and, consequently,
dismissing the replevin case, the CA held that the case is intertwined with Astorga’s
complaint for illegal dismissal; thus, it is the labor tribunal that has rightful jurisdiction
over the complaint. SMART’s motion for reconsideration having been denied, 20 it
elevated the case to this Court.


Whether or not the Court of Appeals was correct in holding that the regional trial court
has no jurisdiction over the complaint for recovery of a car which astorga acquired as
part of her employee benefit.


SMART’s demand for payment of the market value of the car or, in the alternative, the
surrender of the car, is not a labor, but a civil, dispute. It involves the relationship of
debtor and creditor rather than employee-employer relations.
Replevin is a possessory action, the gist of which is the right of possession in the
plaintiff. The primary relief sought therein is the return of the property in specie
wrongfully detained by another person. It is an ordinary statutory proceeding to
adjudicate rights to the title or possession of personal property. The question of whether
or not a party has the right of possession over the property involved and if so, whether
or not the adverse party has wrongfully taken and detained said property as to require
its return to plaintiff, is outside the pale of competence of a labor tribunal and beyond
the field of specialization of Labor Arbiters.
The labor dispute involved is not intertwined with the issue in the Replevin Case. The
Court is not sanctioning split jurisdiction but defining avenues of jurisdiction as laid down
by pertinent laws.
The CA, therefore, committed reversible error when it overturned the RTC ruling and
ordered the dismissal of the replevin case for lack of jurisdiction.