Get Out!

Gil was hired as a booking salesman for Household Goods Patrons, Inc. (Household Goods) in July 2007. His duties and responsibilities included taking customer orders, collecting payments, and inspecting equipment.

From May 2012 to August 2013, Gil faced several disciplinary proceedings due to unaccounted amounts, low sales outputs, unremitted collections, poor performance ratings for failing to meet sales targets, and late remittance of sales proceeds.

Gil stated that on August 29, 2013, a Household Goods officer directed him to report to her office. Gil stated that he was told to resign because he was responsible for the company’s poor performance. Gil denied the accusation, claiming that he had previously been named Salesman of the Year. This enraged the officer of Household Goods, who ordered Gil to leave her office.

Gil went on to say that the following day, an HR Supervisor of Household Goods asked for his resignation letter and presented him with a calculation of his final pay. Gil stated that, while he objected to the request, his efforts were futile, and he was ordered to surrender all documents and property.

Household Goods, on the other hand, asserted that Gil was not fired. According to Household Goods, its officer did speak with Gil about his poor performance and unremitted collections, which it viewed as instances of theft and thus valid grounds for his immediate termination. Household Goods claimed to have taken into account Gil’s previous good sales performance as well as the stigma of being fired from his job. As a result, it offered Gil the option of simply resigning and not filing a criminal charge against him for the unremitted amounts. Gil never returned to work after this conversation, according to Household Goods.

Was Gil illegally dismissed from employment?

The Supreme Court ruled in the negative. According to the Court, there was no proof that Gil was dismissed from employment.

The Court reiterated the settled rule that in illegal dismissal cases, before the employer must bear the burden of proving that the dismissal was legal, the employee must first establish by substantial evidence the fact of his dismissal from service. If there is no dismissal, then there can be no question as to its legality or illegality.1Rodriguez v. Sintron Systems, Inc., G.R. No. 240254, July 24, 2019

The Court also stated that since an allegation is not evidence, it is elementary that a party alleging a critical fact must support his allegation with substantial evidence. Bare allegations of dismissal, when uncorroborated by the evidence on record, cannot be given credence. Moreover, the evidence to prove the fact of dismissal must be clear, positive and convincing.

In the present case, the Court found that other than his allegation, Gil failed to present any proof that he was dismissed from employment. He failed to present any proof of dismissal or that he was prohibited from returning to work.

The Court also found that, on the other hand, Household Goods was able to show that Gil was not dismissed from work. According to the Court, with his poor performance, Gil was only given the option to resign instead of being dismissed.

The Court recognized the fact that giving such an option may be done at the discretion of the employer. According to the Court, a decision to give a graceful exit to an employee rather than to file an action for redress is perfectly within the discretion of an employer. It is not uncommon that an employee is permitted to resign to save face after the exposure of his/her malfeasance.

In the present case, the Court found that Household Goods’ act of providing Gil the option to gracefully exit considering his prior good sales performance and out of compassion did not constitute dismissal, legal or illegal. The Court added that although Gil did not resign and take the separation pay offered to him, neither did Household Goods initiate disciplinary proceedings to terminate his employment.

Could Gil be directed to report back to work?

The Court discussed that generally, when there is no dismissal, the employee should go back to his work and the employer must then accept him because the employment relationship between them was never actually severed.

Here, considering that Household Goods had from the outset offered to pay separation pay to Gil, and which even Gil himself did not dispute, and that more than seven years had passed since Gil reported for work on September 1, 2013, the Court deemed it just to award separation pay (equivalent to one month salary for every year of service, computed up to the time he stopped working, or until September 1, 2013) in lieu of the directive for him to return to work and for Household Goods to accept him.

Further reading:

  • Jarabelo v. Household Goods Patrons, Inc., G.R. No. 223163, December 2, 2020.
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