G.R. No. L-55413, 25 July 1983.
Alfredo Tarroza, Rogelio de la Peña and Loreto Tejero ("Respondents") were light-wheel tractor operators in the pineapple field of Dole Philippines, Inc ("Dolefil").
On April 29, 1977, landguards of Dolefil spotted two drums containing crude oil in the farmlot of Inocencio Asibal which adjoins Dolefil's pineapple field.
Asibal and companion Rogelio Odarve were investigated by the police and stated in their sworn statements that they bought the crude oil from Respondents and two other Dolefil employees.
Respondents and their two co-employees were charged with qualified theft in the municipal court.
While those cases were pending, Dolefil filed with the Department of Labor an application for clearance to terminate the employment of Respondents for "stealing or dishonesty," which was granted.
Eight months later, the municipal court of acquitted Respondents of qualified theft while the two other Dolefil employees were convicted of qualified theft.
After that decision, Respondents filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and for reinstatement with backwages against Dolefil.
The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint and declared as valid, lawful and for a just cause the termination from employment of Respondents. The NLRC set aside the decision of the Labor Arbiter.
ISSUE: W/N Dolefil is justified in dismissing Respondents.
An employer may terminate an employment for "serious misconduct" or for "fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or representative".
Loss of confidence as a ground for dismissal does not entail proof beyond reasonable doubt of the employee's misconduct. It is enough that there be some basis for such loss of confidence or that the employer has reasonable grounds to believe that the employee is responsible for the misconduct and that the nature of his participation therein rendered him absolutely unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded by his position.
The eventual conviction of an employee who is prosecuted for his misconduct is not indispensable to warrant his dismissal by his employer.
On the other hand, the acquittal of an employee in the criminal case filed against him by his employer does not also guarantee his reinstatement if the employer has lost confidence in him.
A company has the right to dismiss its erring employees if only as a measure of self-protection against acts inimical to its interest.