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440-446 Gross and Habitual Neglect of Duties

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  440 Reyes v. Maxim Tea House 398 SCRA 288 Gross and Habitual Neglect of Duties FACTS Respondent Maxim’s Tea House had employed Ariel Tres Reyes as a driver. In the wee hours of the morning of September 27, 1997, petitioner was driving a Mitsubishi L300 van and was sent to fetch some employees of Savannah Moon, a ballroom dancing establishment in Libis, Quezon City. Petitioner complied and took his usual route along Julia Vargas Street in Pasig City. He was headed towards Meralco Avenue at a cruising speed of 50   to 60 kilometers per hour, when he noticed a ten- wheeler truck coming his way at full speed despite the fact that the latter’s lane had a red signal light on. Petitioner maneuvered to avoid a collision, but nonetheless the van he was driving struck the truck. As a result, petitioner and seven of his passengers sustained physical injuries and both vehicles were damaged. T he management of Maxim’s required  petitioner to submit, within forty-eight hours, a written explanation as to what happened that early morning of September 27, 1997. He complied but his employer found his explanation unsatisfactory and as a result he was preventively suspended for thirty (30) days. On November 19, 1997, Maxim’s terminated petitioner for cause. Feeling that the vehicular accident was neither a just nor a valid cause for the severance of his employment, petitioner filed a complaint for illegal dismissal. Labor Arbiter sustained the petitioner’s dismissal and found that petitioner was grossly negligent in failing to avoid the collision. The NLRC reversed the decision of the Labor Arbiter on the ground that there was no negligence on petitioner’s part . While the appellate court decided in favor of the employer and its manager. ISSUE Whether or not there was gross negligence on the part of petitioner that warrants his dismissal? RULING NO. Under the Labor Code, gross negligence is a valid ground for an employer to terminate an employee. Gross negligence is negligence characterized by want of even slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally with a conscious indifference to consequences insofar as other persons may be affected. In this case, however, there is no substantial basis to support a finding that petitioner committed gross negligence. The test to determine the existence of negligence is as follows: Did petitioner in doing the alleged negligent act use that reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily prudent person would use in the same situation? It is not disputed that petitioner tried to turn left to avoid a collision. To put it otherwise, petitioner did not insist on his right of way, notwithstanding the green light in his lane. Still, the collision took place as the ten-wheeler careened on the wrong lane. Clearly, petitioner exerted reasonable effort under the circumstances to avoid injury not only to himself but also to his passengers and the van he was driving. To hold that petitioner was grossly negligent under the circumstances goes against the factual circumstances shown. It appears to us he was more a victim of a vehicular accident rather than its cause. There being no clear showing that petitioner was culpable for gross negligence, petitioner’s dismissal is illegal. It was error for the C ourt of  Appeals to reverse and set aside the decision of the Third Division of the NLRC.  441 Fuentes v. NLRC 166 SCRA 752 Gross and Habitual Neglect of Duties FACTS Petitioner was employed as a teller at the Philbanking's office at  Ayala Avenue, Makati, Metro Manila. Petitioner received a cash deposit of P200,000.00. She counted the money with the assistance of a co-teller. Before she could start balancing her transactions, the Chief Teller handed her several payroll checks for validation. Finding the checks to be incomplete, petitioner left her cage to get other checks, without, however, bothering to put the P200,000.00 cash on her counter inside her drawer. When she returned to her cubicle after three (3) to five (5) minutes, she found that the checks for validation were still lacking, so she went out of her cubicle again to get the rest of the checks . On her way to a co-teller's cubicle, she noticed that the P200,000.00 pile on her counter had been re-arranged. She thus returned to her cage, counted the money and discovered that one (1) big bundle worth P50,000.00 was missing therefrom. She immediately asked her co-teller about it and getting a negative reply, she reported the matter to the Chief Teller. A search for the P50,000.00 having proved unavailing. Petitioner was asked to explain why she should not be held liable for the loss. She submitted her explanation. Subsequently, petitioner was dismissed for gross negligence. Petitioner filed a complaint for illegal dismissal with reinstatement and backwages. The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint.   Petitioner's appeal to the NLRC was dismissed for lack of merit   and her motion for reconsideration was denied. ISSUE Whether or not petitioner’s dismissal on the ground of gross negligence was justified? RULING YES. The Court finds no cogent reason for reversing the conclusion of the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC that petitioner was grossly negligent in the performance of her duties as a teller, which negligence resulted in the loss of P50,000.00.  Applying the test of negligence, we ask: did the petitioner in doing the alleged negligent act use reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily prudent person would have used in the same situation? If not, she is guilty of negligence. The circumstances surrounding the loss in question lend us no sympathy for the petitioner. It was established that petitioner simply left the pile of money within the easy reach of the crowd milling in front of her cage, instead of putting it in her drawer as required under the private respondent bank's General Memorandum No. 211 (Teller's Manual of Operations) which she was expected to know by heart.    Although petitioner's infraction was not habitual, we took into account the substantial amount lost. Since the deposit slip for P200,000.00 had already been validated prior to the loss, the act of depositing had already been complete and from thereon, the bank had already assumed the deposit as a liability to its depositors. Cash deposits are not assets to banks but are recognized as current liabilities in its balance sheet. It would be most unfair to compel the bank to continue employing petitioner. An employer cannot legally be compelled to continue with the employment of a person admittedly guilty of gross negligence in the performance of his duties and whose continuance in his office is patently inimical to the employer's interest. For the law in protecting the rights of the employee/laborer authorizes neither oppression nor self-destruction of the employer.  442 School of Holy Spirit v. Taguiam 558 SCRA 223 Gross and Habitual Neglect of Duties FACTS Respondent Corazon P. Taguiam was the Class Adviser of Grade 5-Esmeralda of the petitioner, School of the Holy Spirit of Quezon City. The class president, wrote a letter to the grade school principal requesting permission to hold a year-end celebration at the school grounds. The principal authorized the activity and allowed the pupils to use the swimming pool. In this connection, respondent distributed the parent’s/guardian’s permit forms to the pupils. Respondent admitted that Chiara Mae Federico’s permit form   was unsigned. Nevertheless, she concluded that Chiara Mae was allowed by her mother to join the activity since her mother personally brought her to the school with her packed lunch and swimsuit. While the pupils were swimming, two of them sneaked out. Respondent went after them to verify where they were going. Unfortunately, while respondent was away, Chiara Mae drowned. When respondent returned, the maintenance man was already administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Chiara Mae. She was still alive when respondent rushed her to the General Malvar Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Petitioners issued a Notice of Administrative Charge   to respondent for alleged gross negligence and required her to submit her written explanation. Thereafter, petitioners conducted a clarificatory hearing which respondent attended. Respondent also submitted her Affidavit of Explanation. Petitioners dismissed respondent on the ground of gross negligence resulting to loss of trust and confidence Respondent in turn filed a complaint against the school and/or Sr. Crispina Tolentino for illegal dismissal, with a prayer for reinstatement with full back wages and other money claims, damages and attorney’s fees.  In dismissing the complaint, the Labor Arbiter declared that respondent was validly terminated for gross neglect of duty. He opined that Chiara Mae drowned because respondent had left the pupils without any adult supervision. Respondent appealed to the NLRC, which however, affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. Aggrieved, respondent instituted a petition for certiorari   before the Court of Appeals, which ruled in her favor. ISSUE Whether or not respondent’s dismissal on the ground of gross negligence resulting to loss of trust and confidence was valid? RULING YES. Under Article 282 of the Labor Code, gross and habitual neglect of duties is a valid ground for an employer to terminate an employee. Gross negligence implies a want or absence of or a failure to exercise slight care or diligence, or the entire absence of care. It evinces a thoughtless disregard of consequences without exerting any effort to avoid them. Habitual neglect implies repeated failure to perform one’s duties for a period of time, depending upon the circumstances. Our perusal of the records leads us to conclude that respondent had been grossly negligent. First  , it is undisputed that Chiara Mae’s permit form was unsigned. Yet, respondent allowed her to join the activity because she assumed that Chiara Mae’s mother has allowed her to join it by personally bringing her to the school with her packed lunch and swimsuit.  Second  , it was responden t’s responsibility as Class Adviser to supervise her class in all activities sanctioned by the school. Thus, she should have coordinated with the school to ensure that proper safeguards, such as adequate first aid and sufficient adult personnel, were present during their activity. She should have been mindful of the fact that with the number of pupils involved, it would be impossible for her by herself alone to keep an eye on each one of them. Notably, respondent’s negligence, although gross, was not habi tual. In view of the considerable resultant damage, however, we are in agreement that the cause is sufficient to dismiss respondent. As a result of gross negligence in the present case, petitioners lost its trust and confidence in respondent.  443 Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Company, Inc v. Amparo Balbastro and National Labor Relations Commission 519 SCRA 233 Gross and Habitual Neglect of Duties FACTS: Respondent, Amparo was employed in the services of the petitioner as a telephone operator in 1978. Petitioner erred that the responded was dismissed due to habitual absences. According to the petitioner, to first happen in March 19-29 1989 without even informing the petitioner, because of this, he was suspended for 18 days. Next incident happened in June 11- 13, of the same year. According to the petitioner’s doctor he asked for a consultation on June 14 and was given a medical certificate which was dated in June 5-8. The doctor confirmed the sick leave but nt n the remaining days the respon dent’ didn’t asked for the doctor’s care which were June 11-13. Because of this he was suspended for 15 days. The last incident of unexcused absences happened in August 6-12 of the same year wherein he called the petitioner’s doctor on August 6 saying that he has a favor. The doctor gave him a medical certificate dated  August -10 1989 because of influenza but the doctor emphasized that the dates, August 9-12 were not covered by the medical certificate. Respondent was terminated in October 1989. In 1999, respondent filed a case erring illegal dismissal and to retrieve separation pays. ISSUE: Whether or not the complaint of illegal dismissal was justified RULING: YES. Wherefore, the court’s decision is justified due to the sufficient evidence presented by the petitioners. Excessive absences without  justifiable cause pertains gross neglect of duties. It was held that there was a PAGKUKULANG in the part of the respondent, that even though he has presented evidence like medical certificate during the time he was absent, he can’t deny neglect of his duties. Those dates that was not covered by the medical certificate needs further explanation on why he encountered excessive absences. Article 4 of the Labor Code implies that if there were doubt in the rulings and regulation of the Labor Code, it must be held in favor of the labor, but if it affects one’s source of livelihood, it is not justified. The law in protecting the rights of the employees authorizes neither self- oppression nor self- distraction of the employer. It should make clear that the law tilts the scale of justice in favor of the labor, but it is not recognition of inherent economic inequality and the labor. The goal is to put the two parties- the employee and the employer in a relatively equal position. The employee n his expense is given what he is paid for and in return he should give the best possible service he can possibly render to the employer.

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Jul 23, 2017
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