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Armando Yrasuegui v. Philippine Airlines Inc | J.

RT Reyes | October 17,


2008
(Obese FA; Equal Protection)
FACTS:
Petitioner Yrasuegui is an International Flight Steward from PAL who was dismissed
because of his failure to meet the companies weight standards. He is 58 in height
with a large body frame. His ideal body weight (IBW) should be 166lbs (147-166lbs
range) as mandated by the Cabin and Crew Admin Manual of PAL (the footnotes of
the case provides the procedure when a crew member is overweight p474 which
includes failure to meet the IBW within a maximum period of 90 days shall be
terminated). In 1984, PAL advised him to go on an extended vacation leave from
Dec 29, 1984-March 4, 1985 to address his weight problem. He failed to meet the
weight requirement at that time prompting another leave without pay from March to
November. After meeting the required weight, he gained weight again and was
asked to take another leave from Oct 1988 to Feb 1989 to again address the
problem. On April 1989, he weighed 209 lbs (almost 50 pounds above his weight
limit). He was then removed from his flight duties and was formally requested to
lose weight and report for weigh ins on several dates. He was also advised that he
may avail of the medical services of the company physician. On his first weigh in, he
weighed 215lbs.
On Oct 1989, PAL line administrator even personally visited the petitioner in his
home to check on his progress but he gained another 2lbs. He then wrote a
commitment to lose weight letter to the Cabin Crew Group Manager. The 90 day
period lapsed, but he remained overweight. On January 1990, he was informed of
the PAL decision for him to remain grounded until he meets his IBW. PAL directed
him to have weight checks every 2 weeks but he failed to report to such. He was
given 1 more month to comply, asked for an extension but again failed to report to
the weigh ins.

On April 1990, he was formally warned that refusal to report to his weigh ins would
be dealt with accordingly. He again failed to report and was required to explain why
he failed to do so. On July 1990, he weight 212 lbs and he was lost to follow up until
1992 when he was again requesting for leniency. He, however, was still overweight
at that time at 219-205lbs.

On Nov 1992, PAL served petitioner a Notice of Administrative Charge for violation
of company standards on weight requirements. In his answer, he did not deny being
overweight. He instead claimed that his violation has been condoned by PAL since
no action was taken re his case and also claims that he was discriminated
against because the company has not been fair in treating cabin crew members
who were similarly situated. On June 1993, he was formally terminated by PAL due
to his inability to reach his IBW considering the leniency the company has given him
that lasted almost 5 years.
Petitioner filed a case with the Labor Arbiter and ruled that he was illegally
dismissed. The LA held that The weight standards of PAL are reasonable in view of
the nature of the job of petitioner. However, the weight standards need not be
complied with under pain of dismissal since his weight did not hamper the
performance of his duties. Assuming that it did, petitioner could be transferred to
other positions where his weight would not be a negative factor. He also noted
other overweight employees who were promoted instead of disciplined. Both parties
escalated the case to the NLRC. The NLRC upheld the decision of the LA and entitled
petitioner to full back wages inclusive of allowances and other benefits and
reinstatement. PAL escalated the case to the CA. CA revered the decision of the
NLRC claiming that The weight standards of PAL are meant to be a continuing
qualification for an employees position. The failure to adhere to the weight
standards is an analogous cause for the dismissal of an employee under Article
282(e) of the Labor Code in relation to Article 282(a). It is not willful disobedience as
the NLRC seemed to suggest. Said the CA, the element of willfulness that the NLRC
decision cites is an irrelevant consideration in arriving at a
conclusion on whether the dismissal is legally proper. The CA held that the weight
standards of PAL are a bona fide occupational qualification which, in case of
violation, justifies an employees separation from the service.

ISSUE:

WON