Admission by Silence in Labor Case
Thus, when an illegal dismissal case is filed against the company, but the company denies having dismissed the employee, should the company first prove that there was no illegal dismissal in this case?
The rule is that “in illegal dismissal cases, the burden of proof is on the employer in proving the validity of dismissal. However, the fact of dismissal, if disputed, must be duly proven by the complainant. (Guinto vs. Sto. Niño Leng-Zeny Consignee, G.R. No. 250987, March 29, 2022)
In relation thereto, Section 3, Rule 1 of the 2011 NLRC Rules of Procedure provides for the suppletory application of the Rules of Court for proceedings before the LA and the NLRC.
It states that In the absence of any applicable provision in these Rules, and in order to effectuate the objectives of the Labor Code, as amended, the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court of the Philippines, as amended, may, in the interest of expeditious dispensation of labor justice and whenever practicable and convenient, be applied by analogy or in a suppletory character and effect.
Section 11, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court, in turn, provides that material averments in the complaint, other than those as to the amount of unliquidated damages, shall be deemed admitted when not specifically denied.
Thus, in illegal dismissal cases, it follows that when the employer fails to specifically deny the complainant employee’s material averments as to the circumstances of his dismissal, the employer is deemed to have admitted the fact of dismissal and must then discharge his burden of proving that the dismissal of the employee was valid.
Citing Fernandez vs. Kalookan Slaughterhouse Incorporated (G.R. No. 225075, June 19, 2019) , the Supreme Court (SC) deemed as an admission by silence the employer’s failure to rebut the employee’s allegation that on a specific date, he was informed by the employer’s personnel, who exercised control over the means and methods, that he could no longer report for work. By the silence, the employer is deemed to have admitted the same. Section 11 of Rule 8 of the Rules of Court, which supplements the NLRC Rules, provides that an allegation not specifically denied is deemed admitted.
In the case of Guinto, the employer did not specifically deny and rebut Employee’s allegations as to the fact of his dismissal from employment. The complainant alleged in his Complaint that: (1) on November 27, 2015, Zenaida told him to leave and not come to work anymore; and (2) the following morning, he received a text message from Zenaida’s representative telling him: “Pare, wag ka [nang] papasok pati ang anak mo sabi ni Ate.”
Meanwhile, in an attempt to relieve themselves from liability, the company and its co-respondent raised the defense that there was no employer-employee relationship. In other words, they did not specifically deny that Zenaida and her representative, on separate occasions, told the complainant to leave and to stop going to work. Thus, they are deemed to have admitted complainant’s allegations as to his dismissal from work.
Under the circumstances in Guinto case, the SC found that the complainant, who was a regular employee of the company, had been illegally dismissed from his employment considering: first, the latter’s deemed admission of the fact of dismissal; and second, the absence of any clear showing of a just or valid cause for such dismissal.
In addition, the company should send another copy by registered mail and keep the registry receipt for future reference.
Read more on procedural due process discussion by Atty. Elvin:
Read more on procedural due process by Atty. Villanueva: