July 17, 2022

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Supreme Court finds manpower agency liable for illegal dismissal 

THE SUPREME Court has ruled in favor of a terminated worker who filed a case against a manpower agency for illegal dismissal. 

The High Court’s ruling reversed the Court of Appeals (CA) decision, which overturned a resolution by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). 

In an 18-page decision on July 14, the court’s third division said petitioner Marlon B. Agapito, a former housekeeper, was verbally dismissed without a valid reason or due process by Aeroplus Multi-Services, Inc. (Aeroplus). 

The court pointed out that the CA committed a reversible error when it accepted delayed affidavits from the company officers. It added that Aeroplus did not explain why the sworn statements were submitted late. 

“More so since these affidavits containing a plain denial of the otherwise prompt, positive, and detailed narrative of petitioner are simply self-serving, hence, devoid of any probative weight,” Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier said in the ruling. 

The tribunal ordered Aeroplus to pay Mr. Agapito full back wages from when he was terminated, separation pay equivalent to one month’s pay for every year of service, 13th-month pay reckoned from three years back, attorney’s fees, and moral and exemplary damages worth P40,000.  

The company was also ordered to reimburse with 6% interest the P200 amount illegally deducted from his monthly wages as a supposed cash bond.  

Under the country’s labor code, employers “cannot interfere with the freedom of any employee to dispose of his or her wages.”  

The case was remanded to a labor arbiter for the computation of the total monetary award and to notify the Labor department to investigate the company’s unlawful practice of making deductions from its employees’ wages.  

Mr. Agapito’s dismissal stemmed from an incident in an open forum, where he raised a concern about his alleged mistreatment in the company.  

Aeroplus suspended him for insubordination shortly after the incident.  

After his suspension, Mr. Agapito reported for work only to be told by the officer-in-charge of the personnel department that he had been fired.  

He then appealed to the NLRC, which ruled in his favor. 

In his ruling, the labor arbiter said Aeroplus failed to present substantial evidence of a loss of trust and confidence in Mr. Agapito, adding the company did not even challenge the petitioner’s protest that his right to due process was violated. John Victor D. Ordoñez