Labor Law

Wilhelmina Orozco vs Court of Appeals (2005)

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G.R. No. 155207 – 497 Phil. 227 – 457 SCRA 700 – Labor Law – Jurisdiction and Reliefs – Bond Requirement When Employer Appeals in a Labor Case

Wilhelmina Orozco was hired as a writer by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) in 1990. She was the columnist of “Feminist Reflections” under the Lifestyle section of the publication. She writes on a weekly basis and on a per article basis (P250-300/article).

In 1991, Magsanoc as the editor-in-chief sought to improve the Lifestyle section of the paper. She said there were too many Lifestyle writers and that it was time to reduce the number of writers. Orozco’s column was eventually dropped.

Orozco filed for a case for Illegal Dismissal against PDI and Magsanoc. Orozco won in the Labor Arbiter. The LA ruled that there exists an employer-employee relationship between PDI and Orozco hence Orozco is entitled to receive backwages, reinstatement, and 13th month pay.

PDI appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission. The NLRC denied the appeal because of the failure of PDI to post a surety bond as required by Article 223 of the Labor Code. The Court of Appeals reversed the NLRC.

ISSUE: Whether or not there exists an employer-employee relationship between PDI and Orozco. Whether or not PDI’s appeal will prosper.

HELD: Under Article 223 of the Labor Code:

ART. 223. Appeal. – Decisions, awards or orders of the Labor Arbiter are final and executory unless appealed to the Commission by any or both parties within ten (10) calendar days from receipt of such decisions, awards, or orders.

In case of a judgment involving a monetary award, an appeal by the employer may be perfected only upon the posting of a cash or surety bond issued by a reputable bonding company duly accredited by the Commission in the amount equivalent to the monetary award in the judgment appealed from.

The requirement that the employer post a cash or surety bond to perfect its/his appeal is apparently intended to assure the workers that if they prevail in the case, they will receive the money judgment in their favor upon the dismissal of the employer’s appeal. It was intended to discourage employers from using an appeal to delay, or even evade, their obligation to satisfy their employees’ just and lawful claims.

But in this case, this principle is relaxed by the Supreme Court considering the fact that the Labor Arbiter, in ruling that the Orozco is entitled to backwages, did not provide any computation.

The case is then remanded to the Labor Arbiter for the computation. This necessarily pended the resolution of the other issue of whether or not there exists an employer-employee relationship between PDI and Orozco.

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