Introduction

The employer is allowed by law to dismiss an employee based on just causes under the Labor Code.[1] One of the just causes is serious misconduct.[2]

In practice, serious misconduct is often the most commonly cited ground for dismissing an employee. Unfortunately, employers or managers are not fully aware of the context and scope of its application. When serious misconduct is incorrectly applied, it will result in an illegal dismissal.

Moreover, the Supreme Court reiterates the rule that “it is cruel and unjust to impose the drastic penalty of dismissal if not commensurate to the gravity of the misdeed.”[3] Thus:

… [W]here a penalty less punitive would suffice, whatever missteps may be committed by labor ought not to be visited with a consequence so severe. It is not only because of the laws concern for the workingman. There is, in addition, his family to consider. Unemployment brings untold hardships and sorrows on those dependent on the wage-earner. The misery and pain attendant on the loss of jobs then could be avoided if there be acceptance of the view that under all circumstances of this case, [the employees] should not be deprived of their means of livelihood. Nor is this to condone what had been done by them. For all this while, since private respondent considered them separated from the service, they had not been paid…[4]

Hence, not all misconduct warrant the penalty of dismissal. A misconduct must be serious, grave, and aggravated in nature such that dismissal would be the commensurate penalty.

For these reasons, this resource material is aimed at providing employers and managers insights on how to properly use serious misconduct as a valid ground for terminating an employee.

Concept of Serious Misconduct

Misconduct is defined as the “transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere error in judgment.”[5]

It becomes a serious misconduct when it is “grave” and an “aggravated character”. As stated by the Supreme Court, “the employee’s misconduct must be serious, i.e., of such grave and aggravated character and not merely trivial or unimportant.”[6]

Further, the following requirements are present. When the requirements are met, it may be a ground for termination.

4 Requirements of Serious Misconduct

For serious misconduct to be a valid ground for dismissal, it must comply with the following requirements:

  1. It must be serious; [7]
  2. It must relate to the performance of the employees duties; [8]
  3. It must show that the employee has become unfit to continue working for the employer;[9] and
  4. It must performed with wrongful intent.[10]

The first three requirements are discussed in a case law as follows:

One of the just causes enumerated in the Labor Code is serious misconduct. Misconduct is improper or wrong conduct. It is the transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere error in judgment. Such misconduct, however serious, must nevertheless be in connection with the employee’s work to constitute just cause for his separation. Thus, for misconduct or improper behavior to be a just cause for dismissal, (a) it must be serious; (b) it must relate to the performance of the employees duties; and (c) it must show that the employee has become unfit to continue working for the employer.[11]

Meanwhile, the fourth requirement has been added through a separate case, viz:

Misconduct is defined as improper or wrong conduct. It is the transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character and implies wrongful intent and not mere error of judgment. The misconduct to be serious within the meaning of the act must be of such a grave and aggravated character and not merely trivial or unimportant. Such misconduct, however serious, must nevertheless be in connection with the work of the employee to constitute just cause from his separation.[12]

In order to constitute serious misconduct which will warrant the dismissal of an employee under paragraph (a) of Article 282 of the Labor Code, it is not sufficient that the act or conduct complained of has violated some established rules or policies. It is equally important and required that the act or conduct must have been performed with wrongful intent.

Case Law on Serious Misconduct

The following are the cases decided upon by the Supreme Court on labor cases involving serious misconduct. As Supreme Court Decisions form part of the legal system,[13] these jurisprudence may be cited as legal basis and precedent for application of the law on similarly situated cases.

Violation of Company Policy

A violation of a company policy may be a serious misconduct. “Violation of a company rule prohibiting the infliction of harm or physical injury against any person under the particular circumstances provided for in the same rule may be deemed analogous to ‘serious misconduct’ stated in Art. 282 (a)” of the Labor Code.[14]

In Yabut v. Manila Electric Company,[15] an employee challenged his dismissal claiming that he was not involved in the shunting of electricity into his household. While he denied participation, it was established that electricity was directed to his household resulting in the violation of the company policy. Thus:

The [employee’s] violation of the company rules was evident. While he denies any involvement in the installation of the shunting wires which Meralco discovered, it is significant that said SIN 708668501 is registered under his name, and its meter base is situated within the premises of his property. Said meter registered electric consumption during the time his electric service was officially disconnected by Meralco. It was the [employee] and his family who could have benefited from the illegal connection, being the residents of the area covered by the service. His claim that he failed to know or even notice the shunted wires fails to persuade as we consider the meter located in the front of his house, the nature of his work as branch field representative, his long-time employment with Meralco and his familiarity with illegal connections of this kind.

The logical conclusion that may be deduced from these attending circumstances is that the  [employee] was a party, or at the very least, one who agreed to the installation of the shunted wires, and who also benefited from the illegal connection at the expense of his employer-company…

Significantly, “(t)ampering with electric meters or metering installations of the Company or the installation of any device, with the purpose of defrauding the Company” is classified as an act of dishonesty from Meralco employees, expressly prohibited under company rules. It is reasonable that its commission is classified as a severe act of dishonesty, punishable by dismissal even on its first commission, given the nature and gravity of the offense and the fact that it is a grave wrong directed against their employer.

x x x

In reviewing the CA’s Decision, we again consider the petitioner’s duties and powers as a Meralco employee. And we conclude that he committed a serious misconduct. Installation of shunting wires is without doubt a serious wrong as it demonstrates an act that is willful or deliberate, pursued solely to wrongfully obtain electric power through unlawful means. The act clearly relates to the petitioner’s performance of his duties given his position as branch field representative who is equipped with knowledge on meter operations, and who has the duty to test electric meters and handle customers’ violations of contract. Instead of protecting the company’s interest, the petitioner himself used his knowledge to illegally obtain electric power from Meralco. His involvement in this incident deems him no longer fit to continue performing his functions for respondent-company.

Sexual Harassment

“Sexual harassment abounds in all sick societies. It is reprehensible enough but more so when inflicted by those with moral ascendancy over their victims. We [the Supreme Court] rule that it is a valid cause for separation from service.”[16] Thus, in Villarama v. Golden Donuts,[17] a material manager found liable for sexual harassment against his subordinate was validly dismissed.

As a managerial employee, petitioner is bound by a more exacting work ethics. He failed to live up to this higher standard of responsibility when he succumbed to his moral perversity. And when such moral perversity is perpetrated against his subordinate, he provides justifiable ground for his dismissal for lack of trust and confidence. It is the right, nay, the duty of every employer to protect its employees from over sexed superiors.

Drug use in the workplace

Drug use in the premises of the employer constitutes serious misconduct.[18] In Bughaw, Jr. v. Treasure Island Industrial Corporation,[19] the Supreme Court reiterated the rule that drug is in the workplace is a serious misconduct that may warrant dismissal, viz:

The charge of drug use inside the company’s premises and during working hours against petitioner constitutes serious misconduct, which is one of the just causes for termination. Misconduct is improper or wrong conduct. It is the transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not merely an error in judgment. The misconduct to be serious within the meaning of the Act must be of such a grave and aggravated character and not merely trivial or unimportant. Such misconduct, however serious, must nevertheless, in connection with the work of the employee, constitute just cause for his separation. This Court took judicial notice of scientific findings that drug abuse can damage the mental faculties of the user. It is beyond question therefore that any employee under the influence of drugs cannot possibly continue doing his duties without posing a serious threat to the lives and property of his co-workers and even his employer.

However, it should be emphasized that failure to follow the proper drug testing method will result in illegal dismissal as stated in Nacague v. Sulpicio Lines:[20]

The law is clear that drug tests shall be performed only by authorized drug testing centers. In this case, Sulpicio Lines failed to prove that S.M. Lazo Clinic is an accredited drug testing center. Sulpicio Lines did not even deny Nacagues allegation that S.M. Lazo Clinic was not accredited. Also, only a screening test was conducted to determine if Nacague was guilty of using illegal drugs. Sulpicio Lines did not confirm the positive result of the screening test with a confirmatory test. Sulpicio Lines failed to indubitably prove that Nacague was guilty of using illegal drugs amounting to serious misconduct and loss of trust and confidence. Sulpicio Lines failed to clearly show that it had a valid and legal cause for terminating Nacagues employment. When the alleged valid cause for the termination of employment is not clearly proven, as in this case, the law considers the matter a case of illegal dismissal.

Consequently, the employer has to follow the proper procedure for drug testing.

Accusatory and inflammatory language

An employee who resorts to accusatory and inflammatory language against the employer or superior may be a ground for dismissal or termination.[21]

In Nissan Motors Phils. v. Angelo,[22] the employee was validly dismissed on the ground of serious misconduct due to his letter-explanation which carried accusatory and inflammatory language against the employer. Thus:

Going through the records, this Court found evidence to support the allegation of serious misconduct or insubordination. [The employer] claims that the language used by [the employee] in his Letter-Explanation is akin to a manifest refusal to cooperate with company officers, and resorted to conduct which smacks of outright disrespect and willful defiance of authority or insubordination. The misconduct to be serious within the meaning of the Labor Code must be of such a grave and aggravated character and not merely trivial or unimportant. The Letter-Explanation partly reads:

“Again, it’s not negligence on my part and I’m not alone to be blamed. It’s negligence on your part [Perla Go] and A.A. Del Rosario kasi, noong pang April 1999 ay alam ninyo na hindi ako ang dapat may responsibilidad ng payroll kundi ang Section Head eh bakit hindi ninyo pinahawak sa Section Head noon pa. Pati kaming dalawa sa payroll, kasama ko si Thelma. Tinanggal nyo si Thelma. Hindi nyo ba naisip na kailangan dalawa ang tao sa payroll para pag absent ang isa ay may gagawa. Dapat noon nyo pa naisip iyan. Ang tagal kong gumawa ng trabahong hindi ko naman dapat ginagawa.”

This Court finds the above to be grossly discourteous in content and tenor. The most appropriate thing he could have done was simply to state his facts without resorting to such strong language. Past decisions of this Court have been one in ruling that accusatory and inflammatory language used by an employee to the employer or superior can be a ground for dismissal or termination.

False, malicious, and libelous remarks

In Torreda v. Toshiba Information Equipment (Phils.),[23] an employee who maliciously libeled his supervisor was validly dismissed on the ground of serious misconduct. Thus:

There is abundant evidence on record showing that [the employee] committed libel against his immediate superior, Sepulveda, an act constituting serious misconduct which warrants the dismissal from employment.

[The employee] maliciously and publicly imputed on Sepulveda the crime of robbery of P200.00. As gleaned from his Complaint dated September 7, 1999 which he filed with the General Administration, he knew that it was Delos Santos who opened his drawer and not Sepulveda. Thus, by his own admission, petitioner was well aware that the robbery charge against Sepulveda was a concoction, a mere fabrication with the sole purpose of retaliating against Sepulvedas previous acts.

The records show that Sepulveda was impelled to forcibly open petitioners drawer. She needed to retrieve the benefits applications of retirees and incumbent employees of respondent-corporation, which petitioner had failed to process for payment before his leave. The claimants sought to have their claims approved and released with dispatch. Before opening [the employee’s] drawer, Sepulveda saw to it that she had Kobayashis approval. Delos Santos opened the drawer of petitioner in the presence of his co-employees in the Financial Section. Thereafter, the claims were processed and payments were effected. Thus, Sepulveda acted in good faith.

[The employee] admitted that his charge of robbery/theft against Sepulveda was baseless, but claimed that he fabricated the charge because of his exasperation and anger at Sepulvedas repeated acts of opening his drawer without prior permission while he was on leave, not only on September 7, 1998 but also on September 10 and 11, 1998; he also pointed out that Sepulveda looked into his personal files in his computer. In fine, by falsely ascribing a crime to Sepulveda, petitioner was merely retaliating against perceived misdeeds she had committed against him. However, the manner resorted to by petitioner of redressing the wrong committed by Sepulveda is a criminal act. As the adage goes, the end cannot justify the means used by [the employee].

In Asian Design and Manufacturing Corporation vs. Deputy Minister of Labor,[24] the dismissed employee made false and malicious statements against the foreman (his superior) by telling his co-employees: “If you don’t give a goat to the foreman you will be terminated. If you want to remain in this company, you have to give a goat.” The dismissed employee therein likewise posted a notice in the comfort room of the company premises which read: “Notice to all Sander – Those who want to remain in this company, you must give anything to your foreman. Failure to do so will be terminated Alice 80.

In Reynolds Philippine Corporation vs. Eslava,[25] the dismissed employee circulated several letters to the members of the company’s board of directors calling the executive vice-president and general manager a “big fool,” “anti-Filipino” and accusing him of “mismanagement, inefficiency, lack of planning and foresight, petty favoritism, dictatorial policies, one-man rule, contemptuous attitude to labor, anti-Filipino utterances and activities.”

Insulting and offensive language

In Dela Cruz v. NLRC,[26] an employee was validly dismissed after he shouted “sayang ang pagka-professional mo!” and “putang ina mo” at the company physician after the latter refused to give the said employee a referral slip.

In Autobus Workers Union (AWU) vs. NLRC,[27] an employee was legally dismissed after calling his supervisor “gago ka” and taunted the latter by saying “bakit anong gusto mo, tang ina mo.”

In both cases, “the dismissed employees personally subjected their respective superiors to the foregoing verbal abuses. The utter lack of respect for their superiors was patent.”[28]

Theft of company property

In Rene Foods v. Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Manggagawa (NLM) – Katipunan,[29] an employee who was caught stealing six cans of company products was valid dismissed. “Jurisprudence has classified theft of company property as a serious misconduct and denied the award of separation pay to the erring employee.”[30]

In Nagkakaisang Laskas ng Manggagawa sa Keihin (NLMK-OLALIA-KMU) v. Kiehin Philippines Corporation,[31] an employee who was dismissed after being caught stealing a packing tape challenged her dismissal. For her defense, she argued that the tape was already half used and had no great value to the company.  More importantly, she readily admitted to having such tape during the routine inspection and before the guard opened her bag. Thus, she did not have any malicious intent as it a mere error of judgment on her part. Notwithstanding, she was validly dismissed for serious misconduct. Thus:

In the case at bar, Helen took the packing tape with the thought that she could use it for her own personal purposes. When Helen was asked to explain in writing why she took the tape, she stated, Kumuha po ako ng isang packing tape na gagamitin ko sa paglilipat ng gamit ko sa bago kong lilipatang bahay. In other words, by her own admission, there was intent on her part to benefit herself when she attempted to bring home the packing tape in question.

It is noteworthy that prior to this incident, there had been several cases of theft and vandalism involving both respondent company’s property and personal belongings of other employees. In order to address this issue of losses, respondent company issued two memoranda implementing an intensive inspection procedure and reminding all employees that those who will be caught stealing and performing acts of vandalism will be dealt with in accordance with the company’s Code of Conduct. Despite these reminders, Helen took the packing tape and was caught during the routine inspection. All these circumstances point to the conclusion that it was not just an error of judgment on the part of Helen, but a deliberate act of theft of company property.

x x x

The [employee] also argue that the penalty of dismissal is too harsh and disproportionate to the offense committed since the value of the thing taken is very minimal. [The employee] cite the case of Caltex Refinery Employees Association v. National Labor Relations Commission[32]where [the complainant] was found to have willfully breached the trust and confidence reposed in him by taking a bottle of lighter fluid. In said case, we refrained from imposing the supreme penalty of dismissal since the employee had no violations in his eight years of service and the value of the lighter fluid… is very minimal compared to his salary…

After a closer study of both cases, we are convinced that the case of Caltex is different from the case at hand. Although both Clarete and Helen had no prior violations, the former had a clean record of eight years with his employer. On the other hand, Helen was not even on her second year of service with Keihin when the incident of theft occurred. And what further distinguishes the instant case from Caltex is that respondent company was dealing with several cases of theft, vandalism, and loss of company and employees property when the incident involving Helen transpired.

Theft against co-employee

In Cosmos Bottling Corp. v. Fermin,[33] an employee who stole a co-employee’s cellphone was dismissed from employment on the ground of serious misconduct. When he filed a labor complaint, he claimed that he was incorrectly dismissed as his conduct is not a serious misconduct against the employer. Thus:

It must be noted that in the case at bar, all the lower tribunals were in agreement that Fermins act of taking Bragas cellphone amounted to theft… The only disputed issue left for resolution is whether the imposition of the penalty of dismissal was appropriate. We rule in the affirmative.

Theft committed against a co-employee is considered as a case analogous to serious misconduct, for which the penalty of dismissal from service may be meted out to the erring employee…

x x x

In this case, petitioner dismissed respondent based on the NBI’s finding that the latter stole and used Yusecos credit cards. But since the theft was not committed against petitioner itself but against one of its employees, respondent’s misconduct was not work-related and therefore, she could not be dismissed for serious misconduct.

Nonetheless, Article 282(e) of the Labor Code talks of other analogous causes or those which are susceptible of comparison to another in general or in specific detail. For an employee to be validly dismissed for a cause analogous to those enumerated in Article 282, the cause must involve a voluntary and/or willful act or omission of the employee.

A cause analogous to serious misconduct is a voluntary and/or willful act or omission attesting to an employees moral depravity. Theft committed by an employee against a person other than his employer, if proven by substantial evidence, is a cause analogous to serious misconduct.[34]

In this case, the LA has already made a factual finding, which was affirmed by both the NLRC and the CA, that Fermin had committed theft when he took Bragas cellphone. Thus, this act is deemed analogous to serious misconduct, rendering Fermins dismissal from service just and valid.

Physically assaulting a co-employee

In Ha Yuan Restaurant v. Soria, an employee who physically assaulted a co-employee was validly dismissed, viz:

While it is true, as [the employee] contends, that the Labor Arbiter did not tag her cause of dismissal as serious misconduct, nevertheless, it is its nature, not its label that characterizes the cause as serious misconduct. There is no question as regards the incident that caused [the employee’s] dismissal. While [the employee’s] co-worker Sumalague was eating at the back of the store, [the employee] rushed toward Sumalague and hit the latter on the face causing injuries. A scuffle ensued and despite their supervisor Recides pleas, the two continued to fight, prompting Recide to call the mall security. When the two were brought to the administration office, they continued bickering and did not heed the request of the manager to stop, and thus they were brought to the Customer Relations Office. Because of the incident, the two were banned from working within the premises. The fact that Sumalague sustained injuries is a matter that cannot be taken lightly. Moreover, the incident disturbed the peace in the work place, not to mention that respondent and Sumalague committed a breach of its discipline. Clearly, [the employee] committed serious misconduct within the meaning of Art. 282 of the Labor Code, providing for the dismissal of employees.

In Technol Eight Philippines Corporation v. Amular,[35] an employee was validly dismissed after mauling a co-employee even outside the workplace and work time. Thus:

The CA misappreciated the true nature of Amulars involvement in the mauling incident. Although it acknowledged that Amular committed a misconduct, it did not consider the misconduct as work-related and reflective of Amulars unfitness to continue working for Technol. The appellate courts benign treatment of Amulars offense was based largely on its observation that the incident happened outside the company premises and after working hours; did not cause a disruption of work operations; and did not result in a hostile environment in the company. Significantly, it did not condone Amulars infraction, but it considered that Amulars dismissal was a harsh penalty that is disproportionate with his offense. It found support for this liberal view from the pronouncement of the Court inAlmira v. B.F. Goodrich Philippines, Inc.,[36] that where a penalty less punitive would suffice, whatever missteps may be committed by labor ought not to be visited with a consequence so severe.

The record of the case, however, gives us a different picture.Contrary to the CAs perception, we find a work-connection in Amular’s and Ducays assault on Mendoza. As the CA itself noted, the underlying reason why Amular and Ducay confronted Mendoza was to question him about his report to De Leon Technols PCD assistant supervisor regarding the duos questionable work behavior. The motivation behind the confrontation, as we see it, was rooted on workplace dynamics as Mendoza, Amular and Ducay interacted with one another in the performance of their duties.

The incident revealed a disturbing strain in Amular’s and Ducays characters the urge to get even for a perceived wrong done to them and, judging from the circumstances, regardless of the place and time. The incident could very well have happened inside company premises had the two employees found time to confront Mendoza in the workplace as they intimated in their written statements. Having been the subject of a negative report regarding his work must have rankled on Amular that he resolved to do something about it; thus, he confronted Mendoza.

From the records, Ducay appeared to have cooperated with Amular in the violent confrontation with Mendoza. Ducay, however, resigned on June 7, 2002 a week before the filing of the complaint. Hence, Technol did not act against him a move that is within its prerogative to make.

In an obvious effort to mitigate his involvement in the mauling incident, Amular claimed in the administrative proceedings that while he and Ducay were walking around the shopping mall in Balibago, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, they incidentally saw their co-employee Mendoza with whom they wanted to clear some personal matters. We find this claim a clear distortion of what actually happened. Again, based on their written statements, Amular and Ducay purposely set out for the Balibago commercial area on April 16, 2002 looking for Mendoza. It was not an incidental or casual encounter. They sought Mendoza out and confronted him regarding what they perceived as Mendozas negative attitude towards them or pamamarako as Mendoza described it. Considering the subject Amular and Ducay raised with Mendoza, it is not surprising that they had a heated verbal exchange (mostly between Amular and Mendoza) that deteriorated into a fistcuff fight, with Mendoza at the losing end as he suffered injuries from the blows he received.

Amular and Ducay point to Mendoza as the proximate cause of the fight because he challenged them to a one-on-one (isa-isa lang) bout. Looking back at the reason why Amular and Ducay were at the mall in the first place, this attributed causation hardly makes sense. To reiterate, they were purposely there to confront Mendoza about their work-related problem. They waited for him at the place where they expected him to be. When Mendoza appeared, they accosted him and put into motion the entire sorry incident.

Under these circumstances, Amular undoubtedly committed a misconduct or exhibited improper behavior that constituted a valid cause for his dismissal under the law and jurisprudential standards. The circumstances of his misdeed, to our mind, rendered him unfit to continue working for Technol; guilt is not diminished by his claim that Technols management called the three of them to a meeting, and asked them to explain their sides and settle their differences, which they did. Mendoza significantly denied the alleged settlement, maintaining that while they were summoned by De Leon after the incident, he could not shake hands and settle with Amular and Ducay since they did not even apologize or ask forgiveness for what they did. We do not find Mendozas denial of Amulars claim unusual as Mendoza would not have stood his ground in this case if a settlement had previously been reached. That a meeting had taken place does not appear disputed, but a settlement cannot be inferred simply because a meeting took place.

x x x

Thus, Amular was not illegally dismissed; he was dismissed for cause.

(Emphasis supplied.)

Fighting within company premises

While the Supreme Court has recognized that fighting within company premises may constitute serious misconduct, it also held that “not every fight within company premises in which an employee is involved would automatically warrant dismissal from service.”[37]

If employees were dismissed for their alleged involvement in a fight, “the employer must prove by substantial evidence the accusation of serious misconduct, and that in failing to discharge the burden, the employee is deemed to have been illegally dismissed.”[38]

In Supreme Steel Pipe v. Bardaje,[39] an employee who was provoked to a fight by the security within company premises was considered to have been illegally dismissed. Thus:

On August 19, 1999, [the employee] reported for work at 6:45 a.m. It was a common practice among warehousemen to wear long-sleeved shirts over their uniforms to serve as protection from heat and dust while working, and on this day, [the employee] had on a green long-sleeved shirt over his uniform. Momentarily, security guard Christopher Barrios called him in a loud voice, and arrogantly ordered him to remove and turn-over to him (Barrios) the long-sleeved shirt. Insulted and feeling singled-out from the other warehousemen who were also wearing long-sleeved shirts over their uniforms, [the employee] replied: Ano ba ang gusto mo, hubarin ko o magsuntukan na lang tayo sa labas? A heated exchange of words ensued, but the brewing scuffle between the two was averted by a co-employee from the Production Division, Albert A. Bation. A security guard, Ricky Narciso, was able to keep the parties apart. Barrios reported the incident to the SSPC management.

The next day, [the employee] received a Memorandum from petitioner SSPC stating that pending the investigation for his alleged violation of the company rule prohibiting inciting a fight, harassing, coercing, intimidating and/or threatening co-workers, he was being meted a 30-day preventive suspension beginning August 23, 1999. He was also required to submit his Answer/Comment to the incident, to which he readily complied.

When [the employee] reported back to work a month after, he was served with a Notice dated September 8, 1999, terminating his employment effective September 23, 1999. [Employer] SSPC had taken into account the August 19, 1999 incident as well as [the employee’s] previous infractions of company rules. [Employer] SSPC declared that [the employee’s] continued employment would pose serious and imminent threat to the lives of his co-workers and to the property of the corporation and its employees.

x x x

[The employee’s] actuations during the August 19, 1999 incident were not entirely baseless. To begin with, it is certain that the verbal tussle between him and Barrios did not start due to the alleged violent temper and tendency to violate company rules and regulations of respondent; the incident was primarily due to Barrios provoking attitude. Other than the self-serving allegation of [the employer] SSPC that Barrios politely advised [the employee] to remove his green long-sleeved shirt and to wear the company-issued uniform, no competent and credible evidence was shown to support the claim. In fact, even the handwritten statements of the three security guards, including that of Barrios himself, did not dwell on the manner by which [the employee] was instructed. On the other hand, [the employee’s] narrations, as corroborated by the duly notarized affidavit of fellow warehouseman Jury Lobitania, revealed how insulting and arrogant Barrios was. This, aside from petitioners feeling that he was being singled out from other warehousemen, who were similarly-clothed while on duty, sufficiently explained why he challenged Barrios to a fight.

We agree with the Labor Arbiters conclusion that [the employee’s] misconduct on August 19, 1999 does not warrant the imposition of the ultimate sanction of dismissal. Undeniably, the altercation between respondent and Barrios was nipped in the bud by the timely intervention of other employees. The momentary work stoppage did not pose a threat to the safety or peace of mind of the workers. Neither did such disorderly behavior cause substantial prejudice to the business of [the employer] SSPC.

Forgery

In Telecommunications Distributors Specialist v. Garriel,[40] an employee who forged the signature of the company’s customers was validly dismissed on the ground of serious misconduct, viz:

[The employee] failed to make [customers] Ratcliffe and Huilar sign the coverage waivers. Such failure, in itself, although a misconduct, was not serious enough to warrant dismissal. The serious misconduct was respondents act of forging the signatures of Ratcliffe and Huilar to cover up his negligence. In fact, he even instructed Ratcliffe to lie and just say yes to the questions that may be asked of her by the company.

x x x

Respondents acts of forging subscribers signatures, attempting to cover up his failure to secure their signatures on the coverage waivers, selling a personally owned mobile phone to a company customer (a defective one at that) and attempting to connive with other TDSI employees to cover up his illicit schemes were serious acts of dishonesty, according to TDSIs Code of Discipline…

x x x

Respondents acts clearly constituted serious misconduct which is a ground for termination of employment by an employer.

Series of irregularities

In Quiambao v. Manila Electric Company,[41] an employee who habitually takes unauthorized absences with several infractions for tardiness was validly dismissed. The employee’s unauthorized absences as well as tardiness are “habitual despite having been penalized for past infractions.” Thus, “a series of irregularities when put together may constitute serious misconduct.”

In Gustilo v. Wyeth Philippines,[42] “a series of irregularities when put together may constitute serious misconduct”. In this case, an employee who have several and repeated violations against the company policies was legally dismissed.

Disloyalty to the employer

In Elizalde International (Philippines) v. Daland,[43] a sales representative who sold products of a competitor was validly dismissed on the ground of disloyalty.

One who asserts an interest, or performs acts adverse or disloyal to one’s employer commits a breach of an implied condition of the contract of employment which may warrant discharge, as, for example, where one secretly engages in a business which renders him a competitor and rival of his employer” (Emphasis supplied). “Aside from any duties expressly imposed upon or undertaken by the employee in the contract of employment, the law implies various obligations and undertakings by an employee in entering into a contract of employment… An employer has the right to expect loyalty from his employees as long as the employment relationship continues”. “Implicit in the contract of employment is the undertaking that the employee shall be faithful to the interest of the employer during the term of the employment. When an employee deliberately acquires an interest adverse to his employer, he is disloyal, and his discharge is justified. And where an employee engages in a business which necessarily renders him a competitor and rival of his employer, no matter how much or how little time and attention he may devote to it, he is deemed to have an interest which conflicts with his duty to his employer, and for this cause may be dismissed… In the absence of a specific provision, the employee must be deemed to have been rightfully discharged where it appears that his activities tended to injure or endanger the business of his employer… On the other hand, where an occupation or business is conducted by a servant out of the hours of service, and is not inconsistent with his duties to the master or antagonistic to or competitive with the master’s business, it furnishes no ground for the discharge of the servant.

Celestino Galan’s act of engaging in a business in competition with petitioner was not only an act of disloyalty but more specifically a wilful breach of the trust reposed in him by petitioner as his employer, which is a just cause for termination… As Sales Representative of [the employer], it was the duty of Celestino Galan to promote and sell the products of petitioner, which duty is incompatible with his undisclosed ownership of a company, found to be the source of the new product with the label “TDY RHUM” manufactured by the Mabuhay Distillery Inc., distributed and sold in Cebu, in competition with the Tanduay Rhum” distributed by petitioner. It was an act inimical to his employers’ interest and, therefore, a just cause for dismissal.

Improper pressure and influence

In Padilla v. San Beda College,[44] a college professor exerted pressure and influence on a co-faculty into passing a student with failing grade. In so doing, the said professor misrepresented that the student was his nephew. He was validly dismissed on the ground of serious misconduct. “This Court is convinced that the pressure and influence exerted by the petitioner on his colleague to change a failing grade to a passing one, as well as his misrepresentation that Santos is his nephew, constitute serious misconduct, which is a valid ground for dismissing an employee.”

Immorality or Moral Depravity

A cause analogous to serious misconduct is “a voluntary and/or willful act or omission attesting to an employees moral depravity.”[45]However, as a general rule, immorality may not be a ground for dismissing an employee unless the misconduct is “prejudicial or in some way detrimental to the employer’s interests.”[46]

In Santos v. Hagonoy Institute Inc.,[47] a private school teacher who entered into an extra-marital relationship with a co-teacher was validly dismissed on grounds of immorality.

It is to state the obvious that schools, next only to the home, wield a weighty influence upon the students, especially during the latters’ formative years, for it instills in them the values and mores which shall prepare them to discharge their rightful responsibilities as mature individuals in society. At the vanguard in nurturing their growth are the teachers who are directly charged with rearing and educating them. As such, a teacher serves as a role model for his students. Corollarily, he must not bring the teaching profession into public disrespect or disgrace. For failure to live up to the exacting moral standards demanded by his profession, petitioner Jose Santos was dismissed from his employment on the ground of immorality. We uphold his dismissal.

x x x

[At] the outset, it must be stressed that to constitute immorality, the circumstances of each particular case must be holistically considered and evaluated in light of the prevailing norms of conduct and applicable laws. [American] jurisprudence has defined immorality as a course of conduct which offends the morals of the community and is a bad example to the youth whose ideals a teacher is supposed to foster and to elevate, the same including sexual misconduct. Thus, in petitioner’s case, the gravity and seriousness of the charges against him stem from his being a married man and at the same time a teacher.

We cannot overemphasize that having an extra-marital affair is an affront to the sanctity of marriage, which is a basic institution of society. Even our Family Code provides that husband and wife must live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity. This is rooted in the fact that both our Constitution and our laws cherish the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Our laws, in implementing this constitutional edict on marriage and the family underscore their permanence, inviolability and solidarity.

As a teacher, petitioner serves as an example to his pupils, especially during their formative years and stands in loco parentis to them. To stress their importance in our society, teachers are given substitute and special parental authority under our laws.

Consequently, it is but stating the obvious to assert that teachers must adhere to the exacting standards of morality and decency. There is no dichotomy of morality. A teacher, both in his official and personal conduct, must display exemplary behavior. He must freely and willingly accept restrictions on his conduct that might be viewed irksome by ordinary citizens. In other words, the personal behavior of teachers, in and outside the classroom, must be beyond reproach.

Accordingly, teachers must abide by a standard of personal conduct which not only proscribes the commission of immoral acts, but also prohibits behavior creating a suspicion of immorality because of the harmful impression it might have on the students. Likewise, they must observe a high standard of integrity and honesty.

From the foregoing, it seems obvious that when a teacher engages in extra-marital relationship, especially when the parties are both married, such behavior amounts to immorality, justifying his termination from employment.

Case Law on No Serious Misconduct

The following are jurisprudence wherein an employee’s misconduct was not considered serious enough to warrant the penalty of dismissal. As stated earlier, the penalty of dismissal must be commensurate to the gravity of the offense in order for the termination to be valid.

Minor misconduct

In Radio Communications of the Philippines (RCPI) v. Villaflores,[48] an employee who uttered invectives against his superior after nearly being physically assaulted by the latter was held to have been guilty of minor misconduct only, and not serious misconduct. Thus:

The issue in these two consolidated [cases] is whether or not the Radio Communications of the Philippines, Inc. (RCPI) illegally terminated the services of its Assistant Vice-President for Management Services, Mario Danilo B. Villaflores, on the grounds of gross misconduct and loss of confidence.

Villaflores was employed by the RCPI on July 1, 1975. A certified public accountant (CPA), who finished the law course while working, he also took units in Master of Laws at the University of Sto. Tomas. In the course of his employment, he became the Internal Auditor, Acting Assistant Vice-President for Finance and Comptroller, and Assistant Vice-President for Management Services…

x x x

German Bernardo Mattus was hired by RCPI on July 2, 1990 as manager of its Management Information System Department. He was under the division of Villaflores but he was required to report directly to Norberto T. Braga, the Executive Vice-President (EVP) for Corporate Services.

On October 29, 1990, Mattus posted a copy of an invitation to a computer seminar on the bulletin board without having sought the permission of Villaflores. When the latter arrived and saw the poster, he asked his secretary, Lydia Henares, to remove it from the bulletin board. Lydia Henares followed Villaflores’ order. When Mattus learned of its removal, he took the poster from Lydia Henares and sought out Villaflores.

Mattus found Villaflores at work in the computer room. He said, “Ano ba ito, Danny?” Villaflores replied, “Hindi puede,” at the same time getting a stapler with the apparent intention of throwing it at Mattus. When a co-employee grabbed the stapler from Villaflores, the latter snatched the poster from Mattus, tore and crumpled it, and threw the pieces at Mattus but missed. Had it not yet been for the timely intervention of the other employees present, the two would have assaulted each other. As Mattus was leaving the room, Villaflores shouted invectives such as “bullshit ka,” “baboy ka” and “gago ka” at him.

On the same day, Mattus lodged a complaint against Villaflores for: (a) conduct unbecoming of an assistant vice-president of the company; (b) threatening a subordinate with physical injury, and (c) shouting invectives at a subordinate in the presence of the Management Services staff.

The next day, EVP Braga asked Villaflores to explain why no administrative action should be taken against him “for provoking and instigating a fight within company premises, using abusive and dirty language directed to your Manager, and for threatening the MIS Manager.”

In his explanation, Villaflores claimed that after he had instructed his secretary to remove all the publications posted on the bulletin board, Mattus rushed into the computer room and shouted at the top of his voice, “Ano ito, Danny?” Mattus, who was bigger than Villaflores, allegedly attempted to attack him but was prevented by co-employees from doing so. Villaflores admitted having uttered “shit, baboy” but these were mere expressions of disgust at and by way of objecting to the imminent attack against his person and dignity.

The RCPI management scheduled a formal investigation and summoned several employees who witnessed the incident. Both parties, however, agreed to forego the “trial-type” investigation, opting instead to submit their formal explanations. Mattus submitted his explanation on November 13, 1990 while Villaflores submitted his on November 26, 1990.

On December 10, 1990, RCPI, through EVP Braga, placed Villaflores under preventive suspension, at the same time giving him a final chance to explain further “why no drastic administrative action should be taken against him for serious misconduct” and “for acts unbecoming of a company official.” On December 13, 1990, Villaflores submitted his final explanation.

After investigation and personally evaluating all the evidence presented by both parties, EVP Braga issued a memorandum dated January 18, 1991 advising Villaflores of the termination of his services effective December 10, 1990 on grounds of gross misconduct unbecoming of a company official in gross violation of Rules 52, 53 and 55 of the Company Rules and Regulations. As a consequence, the company had lost trust and confidence in him.

On December 19, 1990, several of Villaflores’ co-employees wrote Braga a letter stating that the penalty imposed upon Villaflores appeared “to be not commensurate and too harsh a penalty for the alleged offense committed” and praying that the penalty imposed upon Villaflores be reconsidered, but the plea was ignored.

x x x

… Labor Arbiter Amansec rendered a decision [stating that]…  “complainant was not guilty of serious misconduct. Complainant reacted to the posting by Mattus of a poster at the bulletin board without his consent and the latter’s angrily barging into the room where he was seated but his reaction his attempt to throw a stapler at Mattus and, thereafter, his uttering foul language at him although constituting misconduct cannot, we are confident, fall under the category of a serious misconduct. Complainant was provoked by Mattus who unjustifiably barged into his room. Complainant did not actually throw a stapler at Mattus. He could have just tried to scare him with the stapler. He allowed himself to be pacified by cooler heads. These attending circumstances removed complainant’s reaction from the classification of a serious misconduct.” [NLRC affirmed.]

x x x

Consequently, we agree with the public respondents that the termination of employment of petitioner Villaflores on account of a minor misconduct was illegal because Art. 282 of the Labor Code mentions “serious misconduct” as a cause for cessation of employment.

First time offender

In Pacific Products/Fortuna Employees and Workers Association-Tupas v. Pacific Products,[49] it was held that dismissal of an employee for a first-time offense was drastic and hence termination was illegal.

In resume, We believe that the acts committed by [the employee] (being a first offender) do not warrant the drastic remedy of dismissal. As provided for in the company rules and regulations, presented by [the employee] in his memorandum, the penalty for vending, soliciting, engaging in usurious activities is a written reprimand for the first offense, six (6) days suspension for the second offense, and discharge for the third offense. Nothing specific however is provided with respect to deductions from salaries with the express consent of the employees.

Fist fight between employees on private matters

In North Camarines Lumber Co. v. Barreda,[50] it was not a serious misconduct when a scaler employee got into a fist fight with a security guard over a private matter and such did not have any deleterious effect on the substantial interests of the employer.

While conceding the employer’s basic right to regulate the conduct of its employees while inside company premises, we cannot help but notice the unusual zeal and haste displayed by [the employer] in applying the full force of its rules on Barreda. Undoubtedly, the boxing episode was completely blown out of proportion. The fisticuffs were plainly a private matter between the two employees which had no apparent deleterious effect on the substantial interests of the company. Considering Barreda’s length of service with [the employer], coupled with the attendant circumstances, the penalty of dismissal was certainly not commensurate with his alleged misconduct. We affirm his reinstatement with backwages for two years.

Offensive utterances and obscene gestures in a company’s informal party

In Samson v. Schering-Plough Corporation,[51] a terminated employee who made offensive utterances and obscene gestures during a company’s informal party was considered to have been illegally dismissed. Thus:

As borne by the records, [the employee’s] dismissal was brought about by the utterances he made during an informal Christmas gathering of respondent company’s Sales and Marketing Division on 17 December 1993. [The employee] was heard to have uttered, “Si EDT(referring to Epitacio D. Titong, General Manager and President of respondent company), bullshit yan,” “sabihin mo kay EDT yan” and “sabihin mo kay EDT, bullshit yan,” while making the “dirty finger” gesture. [The employee] likewise told his co-employees that the forthcoming national sales conference of respondent company would be a “very bloody one.”

The NLRC ruled that the foregoing actuation of [the employee] constituted gross misconduct warranting his dismissal. Citing jurisprudence, the NLRC held that “in terminating the employment of managerial employees, the employer is allowed a wider latitude of discretion than in the case of ordinary rank-and-file.”

We do not agree with the findings of the NLRC.

Misconduct is improper or wrong conduct. It is the transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere error in judgment. The misconduct to be serious must be of such grave and aggravated character and not merely trivial and unimportant. Such misconduct, however serious, must, nevertheless, be in connection with the employees work to constitute just cause for his separation.

In this case, the alleged misconduct of [the employee], when viewed in its context, is not of such serious and grave character as to warrant his dismissal. First, [the employee] made the alleged offensive utterances and obscene gesture during an informal Christmas gathering of respondent company’s district sales managers and marketing staff. The gathering was just a casual get-together of employees. It is to be expected during this kind of gatherings, where tongues are more often than not loosened by liquor or other alcoholic beverages, that employees freely express their grievances and gripes against their employers. Employees should be allowed wider latitude to freely express their sentiments during these kinds of occasions which are beyond the disciplinary authority of the employer. Significantly, it does not appear in the records that [the employee] possessed any ascendancy over the employees who heard his utterances as to cause demoralization in the ranks.

Second, [the employee’s] outburst was in reaction to the decision of the management in the “Cua Lim” case. Admittedly, using the words “bullshit” and “putang ina” and making lewd gesture to express his dissatisfaction over said management decision were clearly in bad taste but these acts were not intended to malign or cast aspersion on the person of respondent company’s president and general manager.

x x x

Third, respondent company itself did not seem to consider the offense of [the employee] serious and grave enough to warrant an immediate investigation on the matter. It must be recalled that [the employee] uttered the alleged offensive language at an informal gathering on 17 December 1993. He then allegedly made threatening remarks about the forthcoming sales conference on 3 January 1994. During a meeting on 4 January 1994, Mr. Titong, Jr., the president and general manager of respondent company and allegedly to whom the offensive words were directed, merely admonished petitioner stating that, “when there is a disagreement, act in a professional and civilized manner.” Respondent company allowed several weeks to pass before it deemed it necessary to require petitioner to explain why no disciplinary action should be taken against him for his behavior. This seeming lack of urgency on the part of respondent company in taking any disciplinary action against petitioner negates its charge that the latters misbehavior constituted serious misconduct.

x x x

Further, respondent company’s rules and regulations [show that the properly penalty for sucha  first offense is a only a “verbal reminder and not dismissal]…

Indeed, the penalty of dismissal is unduly harsh considering that [the employee] had been in the employ of respondent company for eleven (11) years and it does not appear that he had a previous derogatory record. It is settled that notwithstanding the existence of a valid cause for dismissal, such as breach of trust by an employee, nevertheless, dismissal should not be imposed, as it is too severe a penalty if the latter had been employed for a considerable length of time in the service of his employer, and such employment is untainted by any kind of dishonesty and irregularity.

Failure to have customers sign a coverage waiver

While a misconduct, the failure of an employee to require a customer to sign a coverage waiver is “not serious enough to warrant dismissal.”[52]

Error of judgment

In St. Jude Catholic School v. Salgarino,[53] a private school teacher who passed students with failing marks was considered to have been illegally dismissed. Thus:

There is no evidence to show that there was ulterior motive on the part of the respondent when she decided to pass her students. Also, it was not shown that respondent received immoral consideration when she did the same. From the Labor Arbiter up to this Court, respondent has maintained her stand that her decision to pass the concerned students was done out of humanitarian consideration.

Respondent was moved by pity when she learned that some of her students obtained a failing grade in her subject and, thus, will not graduate on time. Respondent believes that some of her students obtained a failing grade in her subject because they were not properly prepared for the 4th periodical exams. She claims that, although the substitute teachers conducted the 4th periodical exams and computed their grades, there were no teachers assigned to conduct classes, lectures and review before the said exam. Thus, unmindful of the events that may transpire thereafter, respondent decided to increase the marks of her students and gave them passing grades.

Respondent argued that had she failed the subject students, some of them would be enrolling in more than two subjects for summer which is not allowed under Section 68(b), Article XIII of the Manual that provides that a student may enroll in no more than two subjects during the summer, either for the purpose of making up for subjects previously failed, or for earning advanced credits in other subjects. Respondent avers that some of the students with failing grades in Math had also failed in their two Chinese subjects. Hence, to avoid the violation of the Manual, respondent decided to pass these students.

Based on the foregoing, respondent may have committed an error of judgment in deciding to pass her students, but it cannot be said that she was motivated by any wrongful intent in doing so. As such, her misconduct cannot be considered as grave in character which would warrant her dismissal from employment. We, thus, find her to be guilty only of simple misconduct. It is settled that a misconduct, which is not serious or grave, cannot be a valid basis for dismissing an employee…

Remarks and apprehensions by superior

“All the shipmaster says in his report is that he considered [the employee] to be hot-tempered and he was apprehensive the seaman might get into trouble. Such apprehension is, of course, not a ground for dismissal.”[54]

Private teacher marrying student

In Chua-Qua v. Tay Tung High School,[55] a private school teacher who fell in love and married her 6th grade student was considered was held to have been illegally dismissed. The school failed to show by substantial evidence that the teacher “took advantage of her position to court her student”.

This would have been just another illegal dismissal case were it not for the controversial and unique situation that the marriage of herein petitioner, then a classroom teacher, to her student who was fourteen (14) years her junior, was considered by the school authorities as sufficient basis for terminating her services.

x x

Private respondent Tay Tung High School, Inc. is an educational institution in Bacolod City. Petitioner had been employed therein as a teacher since 1963 and, in 1976 when this dispute arose, was the class adviser in the sixth grade where one Bobby Qua was enrolled. Since it was the policy of the school to extend remedial instructions to its students, Bobby Qua was imparted such instructions in school by petitioner. In the course thereof, the couple fell in love and on December 24, 1975, they got married in a civil ceremony solemnized in Iloilo City by Hon. Cornelio G. Lazaro, City Judge of Iloilo. Petitioner was then thirty (30) years of age but Bobby Qua being sixteen (16) years old, consent and advice to the marriage was given by his mother, Mrs. Concepcion Ong. Their marriage was ratified in accordance with the rites of their religion in a church wedding solemnized by Fr. Nick Melicor at Bacolod City on January 10, 1976.

x x x

As earlier stated, from the outset even the labor arbiter conceded that there was no direct evidence to show that immoral acts were committed. Nonetheless, indulging in a patently unfair conjecture, he concluded that “it is however enough for a sane and credible mind to imagine and conclude what transpired during those times.” In reversing his decision, the National Labor Relations Commission observed that the assertions of immoral acts or conducts are gratuitous and that there is no direct evidence to support such claim, a finding which herein public respondent himself shared.

x x x

With the finding that there is no substantial evidence of the imputed immoral acts, it follows that the alleged violation of the Code of Ethics governing school teachers would have no basis. Private respondent utterly failed to show that petitioner took advantage of her position to court her student. If the two eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know. But, definitely, yielding to this gentle and universal emotion is not to be so casually equated with immorality. The deviation of the circumstances of their marriage from the usual societal pattern cannot be considered as a defiance of contemporary social mores.

It would seem quite obvious that the avowed policy of the school in rearing and educating children is being unnecessarily bannered to justify the dismissal of petitioner. This policy, however, is not at odds with and should not be capitalized on to defeat the security of tenure granted by the Constitution to labor. In termination cases, the burden of proving just and valid cause for dismissing an employee rests on the employer and his failure to do so would result in a finding that the dismissal is unjustified.

 

– – –

[1] LABOR CODE. Article 297.

[2] Ibid. Article 297(a).

[3] Supreme Steel Pipe v. Bardaje, G.R. No. 170811, 24 April 2007.

[4] Almira v. Goodrich Philippines, No. L-34974, July 25, 1974, 58 SCRA 120.

[5] Yabut v. Manila Electric Compant, G.R. No. 190436, 16 January 2012.

[6] Imasen Philippine Manufacturing Corporation v. Alcon, G.R. No. 194884, 22 October 2014.

[7] Nissan Motors Phils. v. Angelo, G.R. No. 164181, 14 September 2011.

[8] Nissan Motors Phils. v. Angelo, G.R. No. 164181, 14 September 2011.

[9] Nissan Motors Phils. v. Angelo, G.R. No. 164181, 14 September 2011.

[10] Gurango v. Best Chemical and Plastics, G.R. No. 174593, 25 August 2010.

[11] Nissan Motors Phils. v. Angelo, G.R. No. 164181, 14 September 2011.

[12] G.R. No. 164376, 31 July 2006.

[13] CIVIL CODE. Article 8.

[14] Oania v. Philex Mining Corporation, G.R. No. 97162-64, 01 June 1995.

[15] Yabut v. Manila Electric Company, G.R. No. 190436, 16 January 2012.

[16] Villarama v. Golden Donuts, G.R. No. 106341, 02 September 1994.

[17] Supra.

[18] Jose v. Michaelmar Phils., G.R. No. 169606, 27 November 2009.

[19] G.R. No. 173151, 28 March 2008, 550 SCRA 307, 319.

[20] G.R. No. 172589, 08 August 2010.

[21] Nissan Motors Phils v. Angelo, citing St. Mary’s College v. National Labor Relations Commission, 260 Phil. 63, 67 (1990); Garcia v. Manila Times, G.R. No. 99390, July 5, 1991, 224 SCRA 399, 403; Asian Design and Manufacturing Corp. v. Department of Labor and Employment, 226 Phil. 20, 23 (1986).

[22] Ibid.

[23] G.R. No. 165960, 08 February 2007.

[24] 142 SCRA 79 (1986), cited in Samson v. Schering-Plough Corporation, G.R. No. 121035, 12 April 2000.

[25] 137 SCRA 259 (1985), cited in Samson v. Schering-Plough Corporation, G.R. No. 121035, 12 April 2000.

[26] 177 SCRA 626 (1989).

[27] 291 SCRA 219 (1998).

[28] Samson v. Schering-Plough Corporation, G.R. No. 121035, 12 April 2000.

[29] Rene Foods v. Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Manggagawa (NLM) – Katipunan on behalf of its member Nenita Capor, G.R. No. 164016.

[30] Rene Foods v. NLM, citing Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company v. National Labor Relations Commission, supra note 12; Zenco Sales, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. No. 111110, August 2, 1994, 234 SCRA 689.

[31] G.R. No. 171115, 09 August 2010.

[32] 316 Phil. 335 (1995).

[33] G.R. No. 193676, 29 June 2012.

[34] John Hancock Life Insurance Corporation v. Davis, G.R. No. 169549, 3 September 2008, 564 SCRA 92.

[35] G.R. No. 187605, 13 April 2010.

[36] 157 Phil 110, 121 (1972).

[37] Supreme Steel Pipe v. Bardaje, G.R. No. 170811, 24 April 2007.

[38] Supreme Steel Pipe v. Bardaje, G.R. No. 170811, 24 April 2007.

[39] G.R. No. 170811, 24 April 2007.

[40] G.R. No. 174981, 25 May 2009.

[41] G.R. No. 171023, 18 December 2009.

[42] G.R. No. 149629, 04 October 2004.

[43] G.R. No. L40553, 26 February 1981.

[44] G.R. No. 114764, 13 June 1997.

[45] Hancock Life Insurance Corporation v. Davis, G.R. No. 169549, citingOania v. National Labor Relations Commission, G.R. Nos. 97162-64, 1 June 1995, 244 SCRA 669, 674. A thorough reading of the Oania case, however, does not indicate of mention moral depravity as an analogous ground to serious misconduct.

[46] CA Azucena, The Labor Code with Comments and Cases (8th ed.), Rex Bookstore, 2013, citing Adams v. Southern P. Co., 204 Cal. 63, 266, p. 541, 57 ALR 1066.

[47] G.R. No. 115795, 06 March 1998.

[48] G.R. Nos. 113178 and 114777, 05 July 1996.

[49] G.R. No. L-51592, 18 September 1987.

[50] G.R. No. 75436, 21 August 1987.

[51] G.R. No. 121035, 12 April 200.

[52] Telecommunications Distributors Specialist v. Garriel, G.R. No. 174981, 25 May 2009.

[53] Supra.

[54] Abacast Shipping and Management Agency v. Modelo, G.R. No. 81124-26, 23 June 1988.

[55] G.R. No. 49549, 30 August 1990.