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CHERYLL SANTOS LEUS v. ST. SCHOLASTICAS COLLEGE WESTGROVE AND/OR SR.

EDNA QUIAMBAO, OSB.


G.R. No. 187226
January 28, 2015
REYES, J.

Facts:
Cheryll Santos Leus was hired by St. Scholasticas College Westgrove (SSCW) as
an Assistant to SSCWs Director of the Lay Apostolate and Community Outreach
Directorate on May 2001. Sometime in 2003, the petitioner and her boyfriend
conceived a child out of wedlock. When SSCW learned of the petitioners pregnancy,
Sr. Edna Quiambao (Sr. Quiambao), SSCWs Directress, advised her to file a resignation
letter effective June 1, 2003. In response, the petitioner informed Sr. Quiambao that
she would not resign from her employment just because she got pregnant without the
benefit of marriage.
On May 28, 2003, Sr. Quiambao formally directed the petitioner to explain in
writing why she should not be dismissed for engaging in pre-marital sexual relations
and getting pregnant as a result thereof, which amounts to serious misconduct and
conduct unbecoming of an employee of a Catholic school.
Cheryll replied stating that her pregnancy outside of wedlock does not amount
to serious misconduct. She thereafter requested a copy of SSCWs policy so that she
can better respond to the charge against her. SSCW did not a have these guidelines as
the guidelines handbook was currently pending of its promulgation. It instead stated
that they follow the 1992 Manual of Regulations for Private School (1992 MRPS),
specifically, Sec.94, which cites disgraceful or immoral conduct" as a ground for
dismissal, in addition to the just causes for termination of employment under Art.282,
Labor Code.
The Labor Arbiter in Quezon City decided in favor of SSCW, stating that Cheryll
being pregnant out of wedlock is considered disgraceful and immoral conduct taking
into account that she was employed in a Catholic institution which expect its
employees to live up to the Catholic values it teaches to the students. The NLRC
affirmed
the
decision
of
the
Labor
Arbiter.
Issue:
Is pregnancy out of wedlock a valid ground to terminate an employee?
Decision:

The Supreme Court held that Cheryll was illegally dismissed by her employer.
Her pregnancy out of wedlock does not constitute a valid ground to terminate her
employment.
Disgraceful conduct is viewed in two ways, the public and secular view and
religious view. Our laws concern the first view. Disgraceful conduct per se will not
amount to violation of the law the conduct must affect or poses a danger to the
conditions of society, for example, the sanctity of marriage, right to privacy and the
like. Furthermore, there was no substantial evidence to prove that Cherylls
pregnancy out of wedlock caused grave scandal to SSCW and its students. Mere
allegation of such will not render a judgment in favor of the one making the
allegation. It is the burden of the employer to prove by substantial evidence that the
termination of the employment of the employee was made and failure to discharge
that duty would mean that the dismissal is not justified and therefore illegal.
Hence, the Court ordered SSCW to reinstate Cheryll. But because this is not
possible anymore due to constrained relations with SSCW, the Court ordered the
employer to pay Cheryll separation pay, full backwages and attorneys fees.