Labor Law

Thelma Dumpit-Murillo vs Court of Appeals

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524 SCRA 290 – Labor Law – Labor Standards – Fixed-Term Employee vs Regular Employee

Thelma Dumpit-Murillo was hired by ABC as a newscaster in 1995. Her contract with the TV station was repeatedly renewed until 1999. She then wrote Jose Javier (VP for News and Public Affairs of ABC) advising him of her intention to renew the contract.

Javier did not respond.

Dumpit then demanded reinstatement as well as her backwages, service incentive leave pays and other monetary benefits.

ABC said they could only pay her backwages but her other claims had no basis as she was not entitled thereto because she is considered as a talent and not a regular employee.

Dumpit sued ABC. The Labor Arbiter ruled against Dumpit. The National Labor Relations Commission reversed the LA. The Court of Appeals reversed the NLRC and ruled that as per the contract between ABC and Dumpit, Dumpit is a fixed term employee.

ISSUE: Whether or not Dumpit is a regular employee.

HELD: Yes. Dumpit was a regular employee under contemplation of law. The practice of having fixed-term contracts in the industry does not automatically make all talent contracts valid and compliant with labor law. The assertion that a talent contract exists does not necessarily prevent a regular employment status.

The duties of Dumpit as enumerated in her employment contract indicate that ABC had control over the work of Dumpit. Aside from control, ABC also dictated the work assignments and payment of petitioner’s wages. ABC also had power to dismiss her. All these being present, clearly, there existed an employment relationship between Dumpit and ABC.

In addition, her work was continuous for a period of four years. This repeated engagement under contract of hire is indicative of the necessity and desirability of the Dumpit’s work in ABC’s business.

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