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Petitioner Saturnino Belen is the Chairman of Diwa Learning Systems, Inc. (DLSI) Board of Directors, part of the conglomeration that include First Asia Ventures Company, Inc. (FAVCI) and Fastech Advanced. Assembly, Inc. (Fastech). Respondent Mary Grace U. De Leon was invited to join Fastech, but was not eventually hired due to a freeze order against the corporation. Gemma P. Asuncion (Asuncion), then Vice-President (VP) of Fastech, endorsed her to DLSI which hired her as Human Resource (HR) Manager later becoming a regular employee. Although her contract was under DLSI, her work encompassed handling the HR Department of the other companies in the conglomeration.
As HR Manager, Mary Grace De Leon gave her opinion in one of the cases handled by her. The management found her opinion unacceptable and even construed it as an insult. From then on, her working relationship with the company turned sour. The management even made imputations that she took part in inciting employees to file labor cases against Diwa. Furthermore, she was unfairly accused of failing to properly perform her job, bypassed in important HR-related decisions, berated in front of her staff, and held accountable for the mistakes of others. These incidents are allegedly well-outlined in the exchanges of electronic mails (e-mails) among Asuncion, respondent and other parties. Mary Grace U. De Leon was informed that the Management wanted her out but it was willing to give her a separation pay. She rejected the offer, convinced she did nothing to warrant the termination of her employment. Asuncion then told respondent that she could go on vacation leave to think about the management's offer, but respondent declined.
Petitioners Diwa and Saturnino Belen countered that respondent was dismissed for cause, i.e., for her unauthorized absences. They also denied that respondent was demoted or suffered a diminution of benefits or offering monetary consideration to respondent. Respondent Mary Grace U. De Leon filed a Complaint against petitioners for constructive dismissal, docketed in NLRC NCR.
Labor Arbiter dismissed respondent Mary Grace U. De Leon’s complaint for constructive dismissal for lack of merit. Sustaining petitioners Diwa and Saturnino Belen’s argument that if negative feedbacks and reprimand were a form of harassment, an employer would virtually be powerless to call the attention of and correct their officers.
NLRC initially granted Mary Grace De Leon’s appeal but later affirmed Labor Arbiter’s dismissal of the complaint.
Court of Appeals set aside the decision of the NLRC and reinstated the NLRC’s earlier decision. CA denied the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.
Whether or not there was constructive dismissal.
Yes. The communications between Asuncion and De Leon, both as to language and tone, indicate a pattern of fault-finding and nit-picking, and an attitude of disdain.
According to the Supreme Court, "Constructive dismissal is a cessation of work because continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely; when there is a demotion in rank or diminution in pay or both; or when a clear discrimination, insensibility, or disdain by an employer becomes unbearable to the employee." It is an act amounting to dismissal but made to appear as if it were not. In other words, it is a dismissal in disguise.
The test of constructive dismissal is whether a reasonable person in the employee's position would have felt compelled to give up his position under the circumstances. Considering the facts of this case, the Supreme Court agreed with the CA that respondent was constructively dismissed.