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[ LABOR 2 | ATTY.

NOLASCO ] 1

6. Holcim Phils. v. Obra  SC said respondent didn’t occupy a position with trust and confidence, he
G.R. No. 220998, August 8, 2016  is not a managerial EE. Respondent was a mere packhouse operator with
limited duties. Plus, taking into account that he was remorseful for this
Ponente: Perlas-Bernabe, J incident, and that he worked for petitioner for 19 years already,
Digest by: Bacina respondent’s act didn’t amount to gross misconduct that would warrant
dismissal as penalty. It should be lower than that, so, dismissal was invalid.
TOPIC: Serious Misconduct/Willful Disobedience SC ordered reinstatement w/o backpay.
PARTIES:
Employer: Holcim FACTS:
Employee: Obra  Respondent Renante Obra was employed by petitioner as packhouse
operator in its La Union Plant for 19 years (March 19, 1994-Aug. 8, 2013).
DOCTRINE: As packhouse operator, he ensures the safe and efficient operation of
Infractions committed by an EE should merit only the corresponding penalty rotopackers, auto-bag placers, and cariramats, as well as their auxiliaries.
demanded by the circumstance. The penalty must be commensurate with the act, At the time of his dismissal, he was earning P29,998 per month.
conduct, or omission imputed to the EE.  On July 10, 2013, at around 4pm, respondent was about to exit Gate 2 of
petitioner’s La Union Plant when the security guard on duty, Kristian
RECIT-READY: Castillo, asked him to submit himself and the backpack he was carrying for
 Respondent Obra was an EE of petitioner as packhouse operator for 19 years inspection.
already. One day, when respondent was about to exit Gate 2 from the  But respondent refused and said that it was only a piece of scrap electrical
company premises, security guard Castillo asked respondent to submit wire that was in his bag. He also requested Castillo not to report the
himself and his bag for inspection. The latter refused and said that his bag incident to the management, and asked Castillo if he could bring the scrap
only contained scrap electrical wire. He also said to Castillo not to report this wire outside the company premises; otherwise, he will return it to his
to management and asked Castillo if he could bring the scrap wire outside locker in the Packhouse Office.
the company premises because if not, he would return it now in the office.  Castillo didn’t agree. This prompted respondent to turn around and
Castillo didn’t agree with him. So this incident was reported to management hurriedly go back to the office where he took the scrap wire out of his bag.
where respondent was made to explain. Thereafter, another security guard arrived and directed him to go to the
 Eventually, it resulted to respondent’s dismissal, for serious misconduct, by Security Office where he was asked to write a statement regarding the
petitioner. Respondent tried to reason with petitioner that dismissal was too incident.
harsh as he had no intent to steal, he worked for petitioner for 19 years  In respondent’s statement, he admitted the incident, but asserted that he
already  , and that he was remorseful for what he did. He also said that he had no intention to steal. The 16-meter electrical wire was a mere scrap
asked the contractor if he could get the scrap wire because it was to be that he had asked from the contractor who removed it from the Packhouse
disposed anyway, and that there’s no damage to petitioner as the scrap wire Office. He also averred that as far as he knows, only scrap materials which
was of no value to it. are to be taken out of the company premises in bulk required a gate pass
 LA ruled for petitioner. and that he had no idea that it was also necessary to takeout a piece of
 NLRC and CA for respondent. loose, scrap wire out of the company's premises. Respondent also clarified
 CA awards full backpay in lieu of reinstatement. that he hurriedly turned around because he had decided to just return the
 SC partly grants petitioner’s petition with respect to the award of full scrap wire to the said office.
backpay in lieu of reinstatement.  On July 16, 2013, respondent received a Notice of Gap requiring him to
explain within 5 days therefrom why no disciplinary action, including

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termination, should be taken against him on account of the incident. He reasonable regulation by the State in the exercise of its police power. The
was also placed on preventive suspension for 30 days effective finding that an EE violated company rules and regulations is subject to
immediately. scrutiny by the Court to determine if the dismissal is justified and, if so,
 In a July 23, 2013 statement, he reiterated that he had no intent to steal whether penalty imposed is commensurate to the gravity of his offense.
from petitioner the object which he had asked from a contractor was  Here, the Supreme Court agrees with the CA and NLRC that respondent’s
already for disposal anyway. He also expressed his remorse over the misconduct is not so gross as to deserve dismissal from service. As ruled by
incident and asked that he be given a chance to correct his mistake. the NLRC, while there’s no dispute that respondent took a piece of wire from
Meetings of petitioner's Review Committee were thereafter conducted, petitioner's La Union Plant and tried to bring it outside the company
with respondent and the security guards concerned in attendance. premises, he did so in the belief that the same was already for disposal.
 On Aug. 8, 2013, petitioner issued a decision/resolution memo dismissing Petitioner never denied that the piece of wire was already for disposal and,
respondent from service for serious misconduct. hence, practically of no value. At any rate, petitioner did not suffer any
 Respondent then sought reconsideration and prayed for a lower penalty, damage from the incident, given that after being asked to submit himself
considering his length of service and lack of intent to steal. But petitioner and his bag for inspection, respondent had a change of heart and decided to
denied his appeal. Hence, this prompted respondent to file for illegal just return the wire to the Packhouse Office. Respondent has also shown
dismissal and money claims with the NLRC on Sept. 30, 2013. remorse for his mistake, pleading repeatedly with petitioner to reconsider
 Labor Arbiter – Dismissed respondent’s complaint. He was validly dismissed the penalty imposed upon him.
for committing the crime of theft, thus, not entitled to reinstatement,  Court ruled that infractions committed by an EE should merit only the
backwages, other money claims. corresponding penalty demanded by the circumstance. The penalty must
 NLRC – Reversed LA’s ruling: be commensurate with the act, conduct, or omission imputed to the EE.
1. Penalty of dismissal was harsh since his misconduct was not so
gross to deserve such penalty;  Besides, respondent did not occupy a position of trust and confidence, the
2. Found merit in respondent’s defense that he took the object on the loss of which would have justified his dismissal over the incident. As
belief that it was already for disposal, noting that petitioner never packhouse operator, respondent's duties are limited to ensuring the safe
denied this; and efficient operation of rotopackers, auto-bag placers, and cariramats, as
3. Also, petitioner didn’t suffer any damage since respondent was not well as their auxiliaries. He is not a managerial EE vested with the powers or
able to take the wire outside the company premises; prerogatives to lay down management policies and to hire, transfer,
4. Moreover, he didn’t hold a position of trust and confidence and suspend, lay-off, recall, discharge, assign or discipline EEs or effectively
was remorseful of his mistake, as evidenced by his repeated pleas recommend such managerial actions, or one who, in the normal and routine
for another chance; and exercise of his functions, regularly handles significant amounts of money or
5. Coupled with the fact of 19 years in petitioner’s employ, property.
respondent’s dismissal is excessive and harsh. Hence, separation  Neither can respondent’s infraction be characterized as a serious
pay is awarded in lieu of reinstatement. misconduct which, under LC282 (Now LC297), is a just cause for dismissal.
 CA – Affirmed NLRC’s ruling Misconduct is an improper or wrong conduct, or a transgression of some
established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty,
ISSUE/S: WON CA erred in affirming NLRC’s ruling willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere error in
judgment.
HELD: YES. Petition is partly meritorious.  To constitute a valid cause for dismissal within the text and meaning of
 There’s no question that the ER has the inherent right to discipline, including LC282 (Now LC297), the EE's misconduct must be serious, i.e., of such grave
that of dismissing its EEs for just causes. But this right is subject to and aggravated character and not merely trivial or unimportant, as in this

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case where the item which respondent tried to takeout was practically of no
value to petitioner. Moreover, ill will or wrongful intent cannot be ascribed
to respondent, considering that, while he asked Castillo not to report the
incident to the management, he also volunteered the information that he
had a piece of scrap wire in his bag and offered to return it if the same
could not possibly be brought outside the company premises sans a gate
pass.
 In fine, the dismissal imposed as penalty was unduly harsh and excessive.
The CA didn’t err in affirming NLRC’s ruling that respondent’s dismissal was
invalid.

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