STERLING PAPER PRODUCTS ENTERPRISES, INC., Petitioner v. KMM-KATIPUNAN AND RAYMOND Z. ESPONGA, Respondents.
G.R. No. 221493, 2 August 2017.
Petitioner Sterling averred that on June 26, 2010, their supervisor Mercy Vinoya (Vinoya), found Respondent Raymond Esponga and his co-employees about to take a nap on the sheeter machine. She called their attention and prohibited them from taking a nap thereon for safety reasons.
Esponga and his co-employees then transferred to the mango tree near the staff house. When Vinoya passed by the staff house, she heard Esponga utter, "Huwag maingay, puro bawal. " She then confronted Esponga, who responded in a loud and disrespectful tone, "Puro kayo bawal, bakit bawal ba magpahinga?”
When Vinoya turned away, Esponga gave her the "dirty finger" sign in front of his co-employees and said "Wala ka pala eh, puro ka dakdak. Baka pag ako nagsalita hindi mo kayanin. "
After being served a notice to explain and several hearings, Sterling dismissed Esponga for gross and serious misconduct.
In the illegal dismissal case filed by Esponga, the Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of Esponga, stating that Sterling failed to discharge the burden of proof. NLRC reversed the ruling, stating that the acts of Esponga were all violations of the Company Code of Conduct. On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed NLRC’s ruling, stating that the utterances and gesture did not constitute gross misconduct.
ISSUE: Whether the cause of Esponga’s dismissal amounts to serious misconduct.
Under Article 282 (a) of the Labor Code, serious misconduct by the employee justifies the employer in terminating his or her employment.
For misconduct or improper behavior to be a just cause for dismissal, the following elements must concur: (a) the misconduct must be serious; (b) it must relate to the performance of the employee's duties showing that the employee has become unfit to continue working for the employer; and (c) it must have been performed with wrongful intent.
Primarily, the utterance of obscene, insulting or offensive words against a superior is not only destructive of the morale of his co-employees and a violation of the company rules and regulations, but also constitutes gross misconduct.
Further, Esponga's assailed conduct was related to his work. Vinoya did not prohibit him from taking a nap. She merely reminded him that he could not do so on the sheeter machine for safety reasons. Esponga's acts reflect an unwillingness to comply with reasonable management directives.
Finally, Esponga was motivated by wrongful intent. He committed the acts in front of his co-employees, which evidently showed that he intended to disrespect and humiliate his supervisor.