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G.R. No. 118506 – 271 SCRA 670 – Labor Law – Labor Relations – Post-Employment – Abandonment of Work – Loss of Confidence
Norma Mabeza was an employee hired by Hotel Supreme in Baguio City. In 1991, an inspection was made by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) at Hotel Supreme and the DOLE inspectors discovered several violations by the hotel management. Immediately, the owner of the hotel, Peter Ng, directed his employees to execute an affidavit which would purport that they have no complaints whatsoever against Hotel Supreme. Mabeza signed the affidavit but she refused to certify it with the prosecutor’s office. Later, when she reported to work, she was not allowed to take her shift. She then asked for a leave but was not granted yet she’s not being allowed to work. In May 1991, she then sued Peter Ng for illegal dismissal. Peter Ng, in his defense, said that Mabeza abandoned her work. In July 1991, Peter Ng also filed a criminal complaint against Mabeza as he alleged that she had stolen a blanket and some other stuff from the hotel. Peter Ng went on to amend his reply in the labor case to make it appear that the reason why he dismissed Mabeza was because of his loss of confidence by reason of the theft allegedly committed by Mabeza. The labor arbiter who handled the case, a certain Felipe Pati, ruled in favor of Peter Ng.
ISSUE: Whether or not there is abandonment in the case at bar. Whether or not loss of confidence as ground for dismissal applies in the case at bar.
HELD: No. The side of Peter Ng was bereft of merit so was the decision of the Labor Arbiter which was unfortunately affirmed by the NLRC.
Abandonment is not present. Mabeza returned several times to inquire about the status of her work or her employment status. She even asked for a leave but was not granted. Her asking for leave is a clear indication that she has no intention to abandon her work with the hotel. Even the employer knows that his purported reason of dismissing her due to abandonment will not fly so he amended his reply to indicate that it is actually “loss of confidence” that led to Mabeza’s dismissal.
Loss of Confidence
It is true that loss of confidence is a valid ground to dismiss an employee. But this is ideally only applied to workers whose positions require a certain level or degree of trust particularly those who are members of the managerial staff. Evidently, an ordinary chambermaid who has to sign out for linen and other hotel property from the property custodian each day and who has to account for each and every towel or bedsheet utilized by the hotel’s guests at the end of her shift would not fall under any of these two classes of employees for which loss of confidence, if ably supported by evidence, would normally apply. Further, the suspicious filing by Peter Ng of a criminal case against Mabeza long after she initiated her labor complaint against him hardly warrants serious consideration of loss of confidence as a ground of Mabeza’s dismissal.