Labor Law

Evelyn Chua-Qua vs Jacobo Clave

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G.R. No. 49549 – 189 SCRA 117 – Labor Law – Post-Employment – Grounds for Termination – A teacher having a relationship with a student is not per se immoral

Evelyn Chua was a teacher at Tay Tung High School, Inc. By 1975, she had been teaching there for thirteen years. By that time also, Evelyn, who was thirty years old, developed a romantic relationship with one of her students, a sixteen years old Grade 6 student named Bobby Qua. In December 1975, Evelyn and Bobby legally married each other (the old Civil Code allowed such marriages then). Due to the marriage, the school applied for clearance from the Department of Labor to be allowed to terminate the services of Chua on the ground that her having an affair with a student 14 years younger than her is immoral and a violation of the Code of Ethics for Teachers which provides that a “school official or teacher should never take advantage of his/her position to court a pupil or student.”

The Labor Arbiter ruled that though there is no direct evidence that Evelyn and Bobby did immoral acts while inside the classroom, “it seems obvious xxx that such a happening indeed transpired within the solitude of the classroom after regular class hours. The marriage between Evelyn Chua and Bobby Qua is the best proof which confirms the suspicion that the two indulged in amorous relations [during class hours].” The Labor Arbiter gave clearance for the school to terminate the employment of Evelyn. The National Labor Relations Commission reversed the ruling of the labor Arbiter. The Minister of Labor reversed the ruling of the NLRC. Then Presidential Executive Assistant Jacobo Clave affirmed the ruling of the Minster of Labor. Evelyn now comes to the Supreme Court questioning the ruling of Clave.

ISSUE: Whether or not there is valid ground to terminate the services of Evelyn Chua-Qua.

HELD: No. As per the evidence presented, the school failed to prove that Evelyn and Bobby engaged in immoral conduct. It was wrong for Clave to adopt the findings of the Labor Arbiter which had no basis in the first place. With the finding that there is no substantial evidence of the imputed immoral acts, it follows that the alleged violation of the Code of Ethics governing school teachers would have no basis. The school utterly failed to show that Evelyn took advantage of her position to court her student. If the two eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know. But, definitely, yielding to this gentle and universal emotion is not to be so casually equated with immorality. The deviation of the circumstances of their marriage from the usual societal pattern cannot be considered as a defiance of contemporary social mores.

However, since Evelyn’s relations with the school is already strained, reinstatement is no longer feasible. She is however entitled to separation pay and backwages.

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Chua-Qua vs Clave

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