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NPHI hired respondent Maiah Angela Leynes on 26 March 2001 for the position of Property Manager. On 6 February 2002, Leynes had a misunderstanding with Engr. Honesto Cantuba regarding the extension of the latter working hours. Leynes barred Cantuba from entry into the Project, and she also sent a letter to NHPI HR Head to apprise the latter of Cantuba's supposed insubordination and disrespectful conduct. Cantuba, in turn, accused Leynes of pride, conceit and poor managerial skills.
Hiroshi Takada, NHPI VP, later issued a memo, attributing the incident to "simple personal differences" and directed Leynes to allow Cantuba to report back for work.
Disappointed with the management decision, Leynes submitted a letter asking for an emergency leave of absence for the supposed purpose of coordinating with her lawyer regarding her resignation letter.
Meanwhile, NHPI offered the Property Manager position to Engr. Carlos Jose as a consequence of Leynes’ signifying her intention to resign. It also appeared that Leynes sent another letter, expressing her intention to return to work and to call off her planned resignation upon the advice of her lawyer.
Leynes was later served with a letter and memo relieving her from her position and directing her to report to NHPI main office while she was on floating status.Aggrieved, Leynes lost no time in filing against NHPI and its officers a complaint for illegal dismissal, unpaid salaries, benefits, damages and attorney fees before the NLRC.
NHPI and its officers asserted that the management exercise of the prerogative to put an employee on floating status for a period not exceeding six months was justified in view of her threatened resignation from her position and BGCC request for her replacement.
During the pendency of the case, however, Reyes eventually served the DOLE and Leynes with a notice terminating her services effective 22 August 2002, on the ground of redundancy or lack of a posting commensurate to her position at the Project. Leynes was offered by NHPI the sum of P28,188.16 representing her unpaid wages, proportionate 13th month pay, tax refund and service incentive leave pay (SILP).
The LA found that the NHPI act of putting Leynes on floating status was equivalent to termination from employment without just cause and compliance with the twin requirements of notice and hearing.
On appeal, the NLRC reversed the LA decision. Leynes elevated the case to the CA on a Rule 65 petition for certiorari and the CA reversed the NLRC decision.
Is “off-detailing” or “floating status” equivalent to constructive dismissal.
No. The rule is settled that “off-detailing” is not equivalent to dismissal, so long as such status does not continue beyond a reasonable time and that it is only when such a “floating status” lasts for more than six months that the employee may be considered to have been constructively dismissed.
A complaint for illegal dismissal filed prior to the lapse of said six-month and/or the actual dismissal of the employee is generally considered as prematurely filed.