No-Spouse Employment Policy that is Discriminatory is IllegalAtty Elvin
Effective May 1, 2006, when two employees working for One Network Bank are subsequently married through Church or Civil Court rites, one must terminate employment immediately after marriage.
This policy shall not affect co-employees of the bank who are already married to each other as of the end of April 2006.
On October 31, 2009, Catherine married her co-worker, Audie Angelo A. Cagampan (Audie Angelo), who served as a Loan Specialist in One Network Bank.
On November 4, 2009, the couple requested for permission from One Network Bank President Alex V. Buenaventura (Buenaventura) to continue working for the bank, similar to that given to other couples in its office. They expressed that Audie Angelo may be transferred to other One Network Bank branches.
On November 10, 2009, the Head of Human Resources, Myrna S. Viado (Viado), denied the request and terminated Catherine’s employment.
On February 1, 2010, Catherine sought reconsideration, pointing out that the policy cannot be applied to
her case because she was employed prior to its effectivity. Further, she argued that the exogamy policy contradicts Article 136 of the Labor Code which prohibits practices that discriminate against marriage.
This remained unheeded, prompting her to file a Complaint for illegal dismissal against One Network Bank, Inc. and its officers (ONBI, et al.).
When the case reached the Supreme Court, the SC held that ONBI’s no-spouse employment policy cannot justify Dela Cruz-Cagampan’s dismissal. The National Labor Relations Commission did not gravely abuse its discretion, as nothing was whimsical, capricious, or arbitrary in finding that Dela Cruz-Cagampan was illegally dismissed. A reasonable business necessity must be clearly shown to excuse a discriminatory exercise of management prerogative.
First, the no-spouse qualification is not reasonably related to the bank’s essential operation of its business. It unduly discourages all employees from marrying a fellow worker at the pain of termination.
Second, there is no factual basis to conclude that all of their employees who marry each other would be unable to perform their duties, entailing one’s dismissal. The policy was couched in a general manner, that whenever any two of their employees marry, one must terminate employment immediately after marriage. There is a host of employees in a bank that have varying functions, duties, and responsibilities.
The general articulation allows ONBI to whimsically enforce its policy, as Dela Cruz-Cagampan alleged here that others had been spared. Further, it leaves them the option on which employee’s services to terminate. Here, they arbitrarily dismissed Dela Cruz-Cagampan. The basic tenets of due process cannot allow this.
Read more on procedural due process discussion by Atty. Elvin:
Read more on procedural due process by Atty. Villanueva: