Constructive Dismissal Involving Reduced ResponsibilitiesAtty Elvin
Usually, constructive dismissal involves demotion in rank or diminution in pay. However, there could be constructive dismissal even though on paper there was no demotion in title or diminution in pay.
To give a conceptual view, constructive dismissal exists where there is cessation of work because “continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely, as an offer involving a demotion in rank and a diminution in pay.” (Globe Telecom, Inc. vs. Galang, G.R. No. 150092, September 27, 2002.)
There is constructive dismissal if an act of clear discrimination, insensibility, or disdain by an employer becomes so unbearable on the part of the employee that it could foreclose any choice by him except to forego his continued employment. (Hyatt Taxi Services, Inc. vs. Catinoy, G.R. No. 143204, June 26, 2001.)
As held by the Supreme Court in the case of Tuason vs. Bank of Commerce (G.R. No. 192076, November 21, 2012) the test of constructive dismissal is whether a reasonable person in the employee’s position would have felt compelled to give up his position under the circumstances. It is an act amounting to dismissal but is made to appear as if it were not. Constructive dismissal is therefore a dismissal in disguise. The law recognizes and resolves this situation in favor of employees in order to protect their rights and interests from the coercive acts of the employer.
In a situation however, where the employer implements employee movement which does not involve demotion in rank as to title and reduction or diminution of pay, it is hard to see constructive dismissal.
But if such movement, although it does not involve demotion in title or diminution in pay effectively reduced the role of the employee, there could still be demotion. There could be reduction in functions, roles, or responsibilities. Hence, constructive dismissal may arise.
As in the case of Norkis Trading Co., Inc. vs. Gnilo (G.R. No. 159730, February 11, 2008), there is constructive dismissal where there was a reduction in employee’s duties and responsibilities which amounted to a demotion tantamount to a constructive dismissal. There is constructive dismissal when an employee’s functions, which were originally supervisory in nature, were reduced.
The gauge for constructive dismissal is whether a reasonable person in the employee’s position would feel compelled to give up his employment under the prevailing circumstances. Constructive dismissal is defined as quitting when continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely as the
offer of employment involves a demotion in rank or diminution in pay. It exists when the resignation on the part of the employee was involuntary due to the harsh, hostile and unfavorable conditions set by the employer. It is brought about by the clear discrimination, insensibility or disdain shown by an employer which becomes unbearable to the employee. An employee who is forced to surrender his position through the employer’s unfair or unreasonable acts is deemed to have been illegally terminated and such termination is deemed to be involuntary. (Siemens Philippines, Inc. vs. Domingo, G.R. No. 159730, February 11, 2008.)
Hence, employers should properly assess the situation before implementing any personnel movement that reduces the functions, roles, and responsibilities of employees. Otherwise, the decision may amount to constructive dismissal.