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LABOR CASE DIGESTS 7-11, 30-31

7. CLAUDIA’S KITCHEN VS TANGUIN 828 SCRA 397

FACTS: Respondent Ma. Realiza S. Tanguin was employed by petitioner Claudia’s Kitchen, Inc.
She performed her function as a billing supervisor in Manila Jockey Club’s Turf Club Building in
San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park, Carmona, Cavite.

Tanguin averred that on October 26, 2010, she was placed on preventive suspension by Marivic
Lucasan, Human Resource Manager, for allegedly forcing her co-employees to buy silver jewelry
from her during office hours and inside the company premises. On the same date, she was directed
by Lucasan to submit her written explanation on the manner.

Tanguin admitted that she was selling silver jewelry but she denied that she did so during office
hours. On October 30, 2010, she was barred by a security guard from entering the company
premises. She was informed by her co-employees that they were forced to write letters against her
or else they would be terminated from their work.

For their part, Claudia’s Kitchen and Enzo Squallantin, its President, countered that in October
2010, they received reports from some employees that Tanguin was allegedly forcing some of them
to buy silver jewelry from her during office hours and inside the company premises which the latter
admitted.

In order to conduct a thorough investigation, she was placed under preventive suspension. The
petitioner then sent a letter to Tanguin requiring her to submit a written explanation why she
should not be charged for conducting business within the company premise and during office hours.

During her suspension, the petitioner discovered her habitual tardiness and gross negligence in
the computation of the total number of hours worked by her co-employees.

Subsequently, they sent letters to her directing her to explain the charges and to report for work.
Tanguin, however, failed to act on these notice. The Labor Arbiter ruled that Tanguin was not
illegally dismissed. On the other hand, the NLRC ruled in favor of Tanguin where it ordered her
reinstatement. The CA modified the ruling of the NLRC stating that the reinstatement is not
proper and applied the doctrine of strained relations where it ordered Claudia’s Kitchen to pay
Tanguin separation pay.

Issue: Whether or not the grant of separation pay is proper.

Ruling/Ratio: No, the Supreme Court reversed the ruling of CA. The payment of separation pay
and reinstatement are exclusive remedies. The payment of separation pay replaces the legal
consequences of reinstatement to an employee who was illegally dismissed. In sum, separation pay
is only awarded to a dismissed employee in the following instances: 1) in case of closure of
establishment under Article 298 [formerly Article 283] of the Labor Code; 2) in case of termination
due to disease or sickness under Article 299 [formerly Article 284] of the Labor Code; 3) as a
measure of social justice in those instances where the employee is validly dismissed for causes
other than serious misconduct or those reflecting on his moral character; 4) where the dismissed
employee’s position is no longer available; 5) when the continued relationship between the
employer and the employee is no longer viable due to the strained relations between them; or 6)
when the dismissed employee opted not to be reinstated, or the payment of separation benefits
would be for the best interest of the parties involved. In all of these cases, the grant of separation
pay presupposes that the employee to whom it was given was dismissed from employment, whether
legally or illegally. In fine, as a general rule, separation pay in lieu of reinstatement could not be
awarded to an employee whose employment was not terminated by his employer.

The doctrine of strained relations, upon which the CA relied on to support its award of separation
pay to Tanguin, has also no application in this case. Under the doctrine of strained relations, the
payment of separation pay is considered an acceptable alternative to reinstatement when the latter
option is no longer desirable or viable. On one hand, such payment liberates the employee from
what could be a highly oppressive work environment. On the other hand, it releases the employer
from the grossly unpalatable obligation of maintaining in its employ a worker it could no longer
trust. Strained relations must be demonstrated as a fact.

8. CF SHARP VS CASTILLO 824 SCRA 14

Facts: Respondent Rhudel Castillo was hired by petitioner C.F. Sharp Crew Management to serve
as Security Guard on board the vessel MV Norwegian Sun. Respondent boarded the ship MV
Norwegian Sun. Prior to his deployment, respondent underwent a Pre-employment Medical
Examination (PEME) and was pronounced fit to work. While on board the vessel, respondent
suffered from difficulty of breathing and had a brief seizure attack causing him to fall from his bed.
He was immediately treated by the ship doctor. When the ship docked at the port of Mazatlan,
Sinaloa, Mexico, respondent was brought to a hospital where he was immediately admitted.
Respondent was repatriated on October 7, 2008. He was referred to the company-designated
physicians, Dr. Susannah Ong-Salvador and Dr. Antonio A. Pobre for further treatment,
evaluation and management. He underwent a magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI) with the
following findings: "T1 and T2 weighted hyperdensity over cortico-white matter junction of the
right parietal lobe." On April 16, 2009, a Medical Progress Report was issued by Dr. Ong-Salvador
stating that respondent is suffering from "right parietal cavernoma" and the condition is deemed
to be idiopathic, thus, it is not work-related. On April 30, 2009, Dr. Pobre issued a Certification
indicating that respondent is suffering from Cavernoma and the illness is a congenital disorder
and not work-related. Petitioners shouldered all the expenses in connection with respondent's
medical treatment. Respondent was, likewise, paid his sickness wage. Respondent filed a
complaint for permanent and total disability benefits, damages and attorney’s fees.

Issue: Whether or not respondent is entitled to total and permanent disability benefits

Ruling: No. For disability to be compensable under Section 20 (B) of the 2000 POEA-SEC, two
elements must concur: (1) the injury or illness must be work-related; and (2) the work-related
injury or illness must have existed during the term of the seafarer's employment contract. In other
words, to be entitled to compensation and benefits under this provision, it is not sufficient to
establish that the seafarer's illness or injury has rendered him permanently or partially disabled;
it must also be shown that there is a causal connection between the seafarer's illness or injury and
the work for which he had been contracted. In determining the work-causation of a seafarer's
illness, the diagnosis of the company-designated physician bears vital significance. After all, it is
before him that the seafarer must initially report to upon medical repatriation. In the case at bar,
petitioners' physician, Dr. Pobre, declared that the illness of respondent which is cavernoma is not
work-related as the same is congenital in nature, while petitioners' other physician Dr. Salvador-
Ong declared the same as idiopathic in its causation and, thus, not work-related. However, the
statement of respondent’s physician, Dr. Vicaldo, claims that the disease is work-related. In the
report of Dr. Vicaldo he stated that he only saw respondent once, or on May 1, 2010. Dr. Vicaldo
did not perform any sort of diagnostic test or examination on respondent. Respondent did not allege
how he was examined and treated by Dr. Vicaldo, and how the latter arrived at the conclusion that
respondent's illness is work-related. Meanwhile, Dr. Ong-Salvador and Dr. Pobre are familiar with
respondent's medical history and condition, thus, their medical opinion on whether respondent's
illness is work-aggravated/-related deserve more credence as opposed to Dr. Vicaldo's unsupported
conclusions. In sum, respondent is not entitled to total and permanent disability benefits for his
failure to refute the company designated physicians' findings that his illness was not work-related.

9. MADRIDEJOS VS NYK-FIL 826 SCRA 452

FACTS: Petitioner Madridejos was a Filipino seafarer hired by respondent NYK-Fil Ship
Management, Inc. (NYK-FIL), a registered local manning agency operating by virtue of Philippine
laws for its foreign principal, International Cruise Services, Limited. Madridejos signed an
employment contract with NYK-FIL as a Demi Chef. Madridejos commenced to work aboard the
vessel. Two (2) weeks after, he claimed that he suddenly slipped on a metal stairway and fell down,
hitting his abdomen and chest on a metal pipe. He was brought to the ship doctor and was
diagnosed to have a sebaceous cyst to the right of the umbilicus. After two (2) months, NYK-FIL
terminated Madridejos' services through its foreign principal. Madridejos insisted that he did not
finish his employment contract with NYK-FIL due to his unwanted health condition. Not being at
fault for the pre-termination of his employment contract, he made demands upon NYK-FILto pay
his disability benefits

Issue: Is Madridejos entitled to disability benefits?

RULING:No. Madridejos cannot claim disability benefits since he was not medically repatriated.
Even assuming that Madridejos was medically repatriated, he still cannot claim for disability
benefits since his sebaceous cyst was not work-related. Illnesses not listed as an occupational
disease under Section 32 of the 2000 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Amended
Standard Terms and Conditions Governing the Employment of Filipino Seafarers on Board Ocean-
Going Vessels are disputably presumed to be work-related. However, seafarers must prove through
substantial evidence the correlation between their illness and the nature of their work for their
claim for disability benefits to prosper. For an illness to be compensable, it is not necessary that
the nature of the employment be the sole and only reason for the illness suffered by the seafarer.
It is enough that there is a reasonable linkage between the disease suffered by the employee and
his work to lead a rational mind to conclude that his work may have contributed to the
establishment or, at the very least, aggravation of any pre-existing condition he might have had.
Madridejos cannot solely rely on the disputable presumption. For his failure to substantiate his
claim that his cyst was either work-related or work-aggravated, this Court cannot grant him relief.
For this reason, this Court cannot presuppose that it is work-related. Furthermore, it was already
settled that Madridejos was not repatriated due to his alleged medical condition but due to the
expiration of his contract as a probationary employee. Clearly, it becomes unnecessary for NYK-
FIL to overcome the disputable presumption that Madridejos' illness was work-related.

10. PEOPLE VS ABELLANOSA 831 SRA 407

Facts: Appellant was charged with Illegal Recruitment in large scale in an Information alleging
that that accused falsely representing to possess authority to recruit job applicants for employment
abroad without first having secured the required authority from the POEA, illegally collect and
receive from GEPHRE 0. POMAR the amount of (₱5,500.00), as partial payment of processing and
placement fees for overseas employment, which illegal recruitment activities is considered an
offense involving economic sabotage, it being committed in large scale under Sec. 6(m) paragraph
2 of Republic Act [No.] 8042, having committed the same not only against Gephre O. Pomar but
also against seven (7) others.

Appellant denied meeting any of the private complainants while she was in Iloilo and maintained
that her purpose in going to Iloilo was only to assist Shirley in processing the latter's business
license.

Appellant likewise denied that she received money from the private complainants; she claimed
that it was Shirley who was engaged in recruitment activities.

Issue:
Whether or not appellant is guilty of illegal recruitment in large scale.

Ruling:
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more
persons individually or as a group.

In this case, private complainants Pomar, Pastolero, Cathedral, Orias, Suobiron, Bueron, and
Pelipog testified that appellant went to Pavia, Iloilo and represented herself as a recruiter who
could send them to Brunei for work; that appellant impressed upon them that she had the
authority or ability to send them overseas for work by showing them a job order from Brunei and
a calling card; and appellant collected processing or placement fees from the private complainants
in various amounts ranging from ₱5,000.00 to ₱20,000.00; and that she did not reimburse said
amounts despite demands. In addition, it was proved that appellant does not have any license or
authority to recruit workers for overseas employment as shown by the certification issued by the
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

Finally, appellant recruited seven persons, or more than the minimum of three persons required
by law, for illegal recruitment to be considered in large scale.

11. DE LEON VS MAUNLAND TRANS 817 SCRA 263

FACTS: Petitioner Lamberto De Leon was hired by Respondents Maunlad Trans., Inc. as Team
Headwaiter for M/S Carnival Liberty, a vessel operated by Seacrest Associates through a POEA-
approved employment contract and assumed his duties for two years during which he averaged
ten to twelve hours of work daily. Petitioner, on certain occasions, was also assigned as a "fire
watch" while the vessel was repaired or dry-docked, exposing himself to extreme heat from welding
works and unusual amount of toxic fumes from alcohol and thinner mixed with paint to be used
after welding.

While on board the vessel, petitioner experienced uncontrollable blinking, shaking and difficulty
in speaking and breathing for three weeks. As such, he was referred to a neurologist in Belize and
underwent MRI and CT Scan. He was then diagnosed with "cerebral atrophy" and was advised to
seek a neurologist in Miami, Florida where the vessel was headed. Upon reaching Florida, he was
confined in South Miami Hospital but due to the severity of his condition, he was advised to be
repatriated.

When he arrived in the Philippines, he reported to his agency and was referred to the Metropolitan
Medical Services, Inc. for treatment from Dr. May Donato-Tan, who diagnosed his illness as
Parkinson's Disease and declared him unfit for duty.

Respondents acknowledged that petitioner was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and that he
underwent several medical treatments. Petitioner received the medical opinion of their company-
designated physician stating that petitioner’s conditions were non-work related. Thus,
respondents refused to give petitioner full compensability.

LA ordered respondents to pay US$60,000.00 or its Philippine Peso equivalent and 10% attorney's
fees. According to the LA, those illness not listed under Section 32 of the POEA-SEC are disputably
presumed as work-related; thus, the burden is on the respondents to present substantial evidence
or such relevant evidence that there is no causal connection between the nature of the seafarer's
work and his illness, or that the risk of contracting the illness was not increased by his working
condition. Further, in view of the uncertainty of the diseases' development, the LA held that
petitioner's work as team headwaiter cannot be discounted as contributory, even to a small degree,
in the development of his condition.

NLRC affirmed. It held that the nature of the petitioner's employment is presumed to be the cause
of the illness because it occurred during his stint with respondents and that his employment need
not be the sole factor in the growth, development or acceleration of his illness as it is enough that
it contributed to the development thereof.

CA reversed. According to the CA, while degenerative, Parkinson's Disease is neither listed as a
disability under Sec. 32 of the POEA-SEC, nor is it considered an occupational disease under Sec.
32-A thereof. Further, the CA opined that petitioner was never exposed to any toxic elements on
board because the vessel was a cruise ship akin to a five-star restaurant and could not have been
exposed to any harsh condition thereof. Moreover, according to the CA, no other guests or
employees suffered any illness being exposed to the same work condition as petitioner, hence, his
condition cannot be deemed to be work-related.

Issue: Whether or not the claim should be granted.

Ruling/Ratio: The Court affirms the compensability of petitioner's permanent disability. The
US$60,000.00 disability allowance is justified under Section 32 of the POEA Contract as petitioner
suffered from permanent total disability. The grant of attorney's fees is likewise affirmed for being
justified in accordance with Article 2208(2) of the Civil Code, since petitioner was compelled to
litigate to satisfy his claim for disability benefits.

For disability to be compensable under Section 20(B)(4) of the POEA-SEC, two elements must
concur: (1) the injury or illness must be work-related; and (2) the work-related injury or illness
must have existed during the term of the seafarer's employment contract.

The POEA-SEC defines a work-related injury as "injury(ies) resulting in disability or death arising
out of and in the course of employment," and a work-related illness as "any sickness resulting to
disability or death as a result of an occupational disease listed under Section 32-A of this Contract
with the conditions set therein satisfied." For illnesses not mentioned under Section 32, the POEA-
SEC creates a disputable presumption in favor of the seafarer that these illnesses are work-related.
The claimant-seafarer must still prove by substantial evidence that his work conditions caused or,
at least, increased the risk of contracting the disease. In order to establish compensability of a non-
occupational disease, reasonable proof of work-connection is sufficient-direct causal relation is not
required.

Petitioner was able to meet the required degree of proof that his illness is compensable as it is
work-connected. It has to be noted that as Team Waiter and as a seaman, petitioner was prone to
smoking and to a bit of drinking to beat the cold weather they encounter in the high seas. Further,
by the very nature of his work, he cannot just leave his post just to discharge his urine. Therefore,
where there is incomplete bladder emptying or inability to pass urine, it likewise contributed to
petitioner’s present medical ailment. Moreover, petitioner was likewise exposed to harsh weather
condition, chemical irritants as his job as a head waiter often led him to the kitchen where
chemicals are found to keep the odor from spreading; to keep the cockroaches and other insects
from spreading within the vessel, to make the mess hall a sanitary place for eating; and exposure
to dust and other toxic substances though invisible to the naked eye are all contributory to the
aggravation of his illness.

Anent to the CA’s position, working on any vessel, whether it be a cruise ship or not, can still
expose any employee to harsh conditions. In this case, aside from the usual conditions experienced
by seafarers, such as the harsh conditions of the sea, long hours of work, stress brought about by
being away from their families, petitioner, a team head waiter, also performed the duties of a "fire
watch" and assigned to welding works, all of which contributed to petitioner's stress, fatigue and
extreme exhaustion. To presume, therefore, that employees of a cruise ship do not experience the
usual perils encountered by those working on a different vessel is utterly wrong. Further, the CA's
opinion that no other guests or employees suffered any illness being exposed to the same conditions
as petitioner, and thus, his illness cannot be considered as work-related, such is completely
erroneous because not all persons have the same health condition, stamina and physical capability
to fight an illness. As aptly observed by the LA, petitioner's work as Team Headwaiter cannot be
discounted as contributory factor, even to a small degree in the development of his illness. The
contributory factor of petitioner’s work was strengthened by the fact that he already experienced
in a milder state the symptoms of the disease during his employment contract with respondents
prior to his last employment contract with them.

30. TURKS SHAWARMA VS PAJARON 814 SCRA 359

FACTS: Turks Shawarma Company hired Feliciano Z. Pajaron (Pajaron) in May 2007 as service
crew and Larry A. Carbonilla (Carbonilla) in April 2007 as head crew.On April 15, 2010, Pajaron
and Carbonilla filed their respective Complaints5 for constructive and actual illegal dismissal, non-
payment of overtime pay, holiday pay, holiday premium, rest day premium and other mandatory
legal benefits.

Carbonilla alleged that sometime in June 2008, he had an altercation with his supervisor Conchita
Marcillana (Marcillana) while at work. en the incident was brought to the attention of Zeñarosa,
he was immediately dismissed from service. He was also asked by Zeñarosa to sign a piece of paper
acknowledging his debt amounting to P7,000.00. Pajaron alleged that on April 9, 2010, Zeñarosa
asked him to sign a piece of paper stating that he was receiving the correct amount of wages and
that he had no claims whatsoever from the company.

Both Pajaron and Carbonilla claimed that there was no just or authorized cause for their dismissal
and that Turks Shawarma Corp also failed to comply with the requirements of due process.

The Labor Arbiter found credible Pajaron and Carbonilla's version and held them constructively
and illegally dismissed by petitioners. They were awarded of their damages and benefits they
prayed for. Zeñarosa himself filed a Notice of Appeal with Memorandum and Motion to Reduce
Bond. NLRC denied their petition of appeal and motion for bond since it will be tantamount to
extending the period to appeal which is limited only to 10 days from receipt of the assailed Decision.

Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the NLRC on the ground that Turks Company and
Zenarosa failed to comply with the requisites in filing a motion to reduce bond, namely, the
presence of a meritorious ground and the posting of a reasonable amount of bond.

ISSUE: WON there should be a liberal application of the period to file an appeal from a Labor Case
decision.

RULING/RATIO: No. The CA did not err in affirming the NLRC's decision in dismissing
petitioners’ appeal for non-perfection. The Court has time and again held that "the right to appeal
is neither a natural right nor is it a component of due process. It is a mere statutory privilege and
may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the law. The party
who seeks to avail of the same must comply with the requirements of the rules. Failing to do so,
the right to appeal is lost."

It is clear from both the Labor Code (Article 223) and the NLRC Rules of Procedure (Sections 4 and
6 of Rule VI) that there is legislative and administrative intent to strictly apply the appeal bond
requirement, and the Court should give utmost regard to this intention."

The posting of cash or surety bond is therefore mandatory and jurisdictional; failure to comply with
this requirement renders the decision of the Labor Arbiter final and executory. This indispensable
requisite for the perfection of an appeal ''is to assure the workers that if they finally prevail in the
case[,] the monetary award will be given to them upon the dismissal of the employer's appeal [and]
is further meant to discourage employers from using the appeal to delay or evade payment of their
obligations to the employees.

Stated otherwise, petitioners' case will still fail on its merits even if we are to allow their appeal to
be given due course. After scrupulously examining the contracting positions and arguments of the
parties, we find that the Labor Arbiter's decision declaring Pajaron and Carbonilla illegally
dismissed was supported by substantial evidence. All told, we find no error on the part of the CA
in ruling that the NLRC did not gravely abused its discretion in dismissing petitioners' appeal for
no perfection due to noncompliance with the requisites of filing a motion to reduce bond.

31. BROWN VS MARSWIN 820 SCRA 484

Facts: On June 7, 2010, Brown filed a complaint for illegal dismissal, non-payment of salary and
13th month pay as well as claim for moral and exemplary damages and attorney's fees against
Marswin Marketing, Inc. Marswin) and Sany Tan (Tan), its owner and President. He prayed for
reinstatement with full backwages and payment of his other monetary claims.

He alleged that on October 5, 2009, Marswin employed petitioner as building maintenance/


electrician and was tasked to maintain its sanitation and make necessary electrical repairs
thereon. Furthermore, that on May 28, 20l0, he reported at the Main Office of Marswin, and was
told that it was already his last day of work. Allegedly, he was made to sign a document that he
did not understand; and, thereafter he was no longer admitted back to work. Thus, he insisted that
he was terminated without due process of law.

For their part, Marswin/Tan admitted that they employed Brown as electrician; that during his
eight-month stay, Marswin received negative reports on Brown's work ethics, competence, and
efficiency. On May 28, 20l0, they summoned him at its Main Office to purportedly discuss the
complaints of the Warehouse Manager and the Warehouse Supervisor however he left the meeting
and no longer returned to work. Consequently, he was considered to have abandoned his post. As
evidence, they attached in their position paper a sinumpaang salaysay executed by Bernadette
Azucena, the company’s Accounting Supervisor and Human resource head, attesting to the alleged
complaints she received and the events that transpired during the said meeting.

The labor arbiter declared Brown’s dismissal illegal. The LA noted that no actual complaints or
reports against him in support of the alleged complaints was submitted. The LA was also
unconvinced that Brown left Marswin's premises and abandoned his work considering that he filed
this illegal dismissal case; and his employer failed to notify him to report back to work.

NLRC affirmed the decision of the LA. On appeal, the Court of Appeals, it annulled and set aside
the NLRC Resolutions and declared that Brown was not dismissed there being no evidence proving
that Brown was actually dismissed.

Issue: Whether the CA erred in declaring that the company did not illegally dismiss the petitioner.

Ruling: Yes, Brown was illegally dismissed by the company.

In dismissal cases, the employer bears the burden of proving that the employee was not terminated,
or if dismissed, that the dismissal was legal. Resultantly, the failure of the employer to discharge
such burden would mean that the dismissal is unjustified and thus, illegal. The employer cannot
simply discharge such burden by its plain assertion that it did not dismiss the employee; and it is
highly absurd if the employer will escape liability by its mere claim that the employee abandoned
his or her work.

In this case, apart from the allegation of abandonment, Marswin/Tan presented no evidence
proving that Brown failed to return without justifiable reasons and had clear intentions to
discontinue his work. Therefore, Brown was illegally dismissed.

In fact, in her affidavit, Azucena did not specify any overt act on the part of Brown showing that
he intended to cease working for Marswin. At the same time, Azucena did not establish that
Marswin, on its end, exerted effort to convince Brown to return from work, if only to show that
Marswin did not dismiss him and it was Brown who actually refused to return to work. And neither
did Marswin send any notice to Brown to warn him that his supposed failure to report would be
deemed as abandonment of work.

In addition, on June 7, 2010, or just ten days after Brown's last day at work (May 28, 2010), he
already filed an illegal dismissal suit against his employer. Indeed, the immediate filing of an
illegal dismissal case especially so when it includes a prayer for reinstatement is totally contrary
to the charge of abandonment.

Furthermore, Marswin/Tan presented the affidavit of Azucena, their Accounting Supervisor and
HR Head, as proof that Brown committed abandonment. However, aside from being insufficient,
self-serving, and unworthy of credence, such affidavit did not allege any actual complaint against
Brown when Marswin summoned him on May 28, 2010. In said affidavit, Azucena did not at all
specify the name of any officer or employee against whom Brown allegedly committed an infraction,
and neither did any of these persons submit their own affidavits to prove that Brown should be
disciplined by his employer.

Clearly from the foregoing, Marswin failed to discharge the burden of proving that Brown
abandoned his work.