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Best Wear Garments v. De Lemos o Ocubillo: Her transfer was caused by her excessive absences.

These were
G.R. No. 191281 | December 5, 2012 | Villarama, Jr., J. due to her father becoming very sick and subsequently passing away. She
also became very sickly. She claimed that Sitosta assigned her to different
Summary: machines whichever is available and that there were times she could not
earn for a day because there was no available machine for work. Sitosta
De Lemos and Ocubillo, sewers, claim that they were constructively dismissed because Best also allegedly required her to render overtime work but she refused
Wear Garments transferred them to other areas of operation. They alleged that their transfer because she was not paid the whole duration.
resulted to a reduction on their pay. The LA decided that they were illegally dismissed and ● BWG denied terminating De Lemos and Ocubillo, who supposedly committed
granted them separation pay and back-wages. The NLRC reversed the LA decision finding no numerous absences without leave.
basis for their charge of constructive dismissal. It held that the transfer was valid exercise of o De Lemos and Ocubillo informed Sitosta their intention to resign and
management prerogative, and as piece-rate employees, their earnings depend on their output. demanded payment of separation pay.
They were ordered to report back to work. The CA held that there was no valid and legitimate o Sitosta explained to them that the company had no existing policy on
business reason in the transfer which entailed their reduction in earnings. This is tantamount to granting separation pay hence he could not act on their request.
constructive dismissal. However, the Court held that the transfer was a valid exercise of company o Both never reported back to work since.
prerogative. It stressed that De Lemos and Ocubillo are piece-rate workers. They have no fixed ● On the allegation of De Lemos and Ocubillo’s refusal to render overtime work
salaries and their compensation is computed on the basis of accomplished tasks. The reduction causing their transfer, BWG asserted that they were piece-rate workers and hence
on their earnings because of their tasks is not necessarily tantamount to constructive dismissal. they are not paid according to the number of hours worked.
● LA (Anni): Granted De Lemos and Ocubillo’s claims. It ruled that they were illegally
Doctrine:
dismissed, granted separation pay, and backwages.
● Workers under piece-rate employment have no fixed salaries and their compensation o De Lemos and Ocubillo neither resigned nor abandoned their job. They
is computed on the basis of accomplished tasks. could no longer be deemed terminated for reason of absence without leave
● The constitutional policy of providing full protection to labor is not intended to because this prerogative should have been exercised before the dismissal
oppress or destroy management. have been effected. It would be illogical for them to resign and then file a
complaint for illegal dismissal.
Provision: ● NLRC: Reversed the decision of the LA. It found no basis for the charge of
constructive dismissal.
Facts: o The alleged demotion is vague. De Lemos and Ocubillo simply alleged
that in their transfer, they did not ears as much as they earned in their
● Best Wear Garments (BWG), represented by its General Manager Alex Sitosta, previous assignments. But they failed to state the difference of their
petitioned for review on certiorari assailing the CA’s decision which reversed the earnings before and after their transfer.
NLRC decision and reinstated the LA decision. o It is to be stressed that they were paid on a piece rate basis, which means
● Adelaida De Lemos and Cecile Ocubillo were hired as sewers on piece-rate basis by that they their earnings depends on their output.
BWG. o The transfer was a valid exercise of management prerogative. The kind of
o De Lemos and Ocubillo filed a complaint for illegal dismissal praying for work (garments manufacturing as a sub-contractor) is dependent with its
back-wages and other accrued benefits, separation pay, service incentive client which specifies the work it has to perform. The work to be
leave pay, and attorney’s fees. performed by its employees will depend on the work specifications in the
● Both complaints alleged that Sitosta arbitrarily transferred them to other areas of contract.
operation of the company, which amounted to constructive dismissal as it resulted in o De Lemos and Ocubillo were not dismissed, actual or constructive,
less earnings for them. because they continue to report to work until February 2004 (De Lemos)
o De Lemos: After two months in her new assignment, she adjusted but and August 2004 (Ocubillo).
Sitosta transferred her again to a different operation where she could not ▪ It was only on May 2004 (De Lemos) and June 2004
earn as much before because by-products require long period of time to (Ocubillo) that they filed their cases.
finish. She averred that her transfer was for her refusal to render overtime o The NLRC ordered them to report back to work without backwages since
work up to 7PM. Her request to be returned to her previous assignment they were not dismissed.
was rejected and she was constrained no to report for work. She further ▪ De Lemos and Ocubillo filed for reconsideration but was
alleged that her salary was withheld. denied.
● CA: Granted De Lemos and Ocubillo’s petition, modifying their service incentive ● There was no evidence that De Lemos and Ocubillo were dismissed from
leave pay shall be excluded in the computation. employment. BWG even expressed willingness to accept them back to work.
o There was no valid and legitimate business reason for the transfer order o Since there was no termination of employment, the award of back-wages
which entailed the reduction of their earnings. cannot be sustained. The remedy is reinstatement but without back-wages.
▪ The transfer was unreasonable, inconvenient and prejudicial to ● The constitutional policy of providing full protection to labor is not intended to
them which is tantamount to a constructive dismissal. oppress or destroy management. Management also has its rights which are entitled to
o The unauthorized absences did not warrant a finding of abandonment in respect and enforcement in the interest of simply fair play.
view of the length of their service with BWG.
▪ An employee who forthwith takes steps to protest his layoff Ruling: Petition Granted. CA decision SET ASIDE. NLRC decision is REINSTATED
cannot by any logic be said to have abandoned his work. and UPHELD.

Issue:

W/N BWG constructively dismissed De Lemos and Ocubillo by transferring them and
thereby reducing their pay. – NO.

● The right of employee to security of tenure does not give them vested rights to their
positions to the extent of depriving management to its prerogative to change their
assignments or to transfer them.
● An employer may transfer or assign employees from one office or area of operation
to another, provided there is no demotion in rank or diminution of salary, benefits,
and other privileges, and the action is not motivated by discrimination, made in bad
faith, or effected as a form of punishment or demotion without sufficient cause.
o Blue Dairy Corporation v. NLRC. The employer must able to show that
the transfer is not unreasonable, inconvenient or prejudicial to the
employee; nor does it involve a demotion in rank or a diminution of his
salaries, privileges and other benefits.
● (On the topic) Being piece-rate workers assigned to individual sewing machines, De
Lemos and Ocubillo’s earnings depended on the quality and quantity of finished
products.
o Their work output affected by the change in their specific work
assignments does not necessarily imply that any resulting reduction in pay
is tantamount to constructive dismissal.
o Workers under piece-rate employment have no fixed salaries and their
compensation is computed on the basis of accomplished tasks.
● As admitted by De Lemos, some garments or by-products took a longer time to finish
so they could not earn as much as before. The type of sewing jobs available would
depend on the specifications made by the clients.
o Thus, it cannot be said that the transfer was unreasonable, inconvenient or
prejudicial. Such deployment of sewers to work on the different types of
garments as dictated by present business necessity is within management
prerogative.
● It is unfair to charge BWG with constructive dismissal simply because De Lemos and
Ocubillo insist that their transfer was against their will.
o The objection to the transfer being grounded on solely upon the personal
inconvenience or hardship that will be caused to the employee by reason
of the transfer is not a valid reason to disobey an order of transfer.

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