Totality of Infractions Principle in Labor Cases

Totality of Infractions Principle in Labor Cases

Cebu People’s Multi-purpose Cooperative (CPMPC) hired Carbonilla, Jr. as a Credit and Collection Manager and, as such, was tasked with the handling of the credit. and collection activities of the cooperative, which included recommending loan approvals, formulating and implementing credit and collection policies, and conducting trainings.

Sometime in 2007, CPMPC underwent a reorganization whereby Carbonilla, Jr. was also assigned to perform the duties of Human Resources Department (HRD) Manager, i.e., assisting in the personnel hiring, firing, and handling of labor disputes. In 2008, he was appointed as Legal Officer and subsequently, held the position of Legal and Collection Manager.

Subsequently, CPMPC, through its HRD Manager, sent various memoranda to Carbonilla, Jr. seeking explanation on the various infractions he allegedly committed. He replied explaining his side. Unconvinced by Carbonilla, Jr.’s explanations, CPMPC scheduled several clarificatory hearings, but the former failed to attend despite due notice. Later, CPMPC conducted a formal investigation where it ultimately found Carbonilla, Jr. to have committed acts prejudicial to CPMPC’s interests.

As such, CPMPC, CEO Quevedo, sent Carbonilla, Jr. a Notice of Dismissal dated August 5, 2008 informing the latter of his termination on the grounds of: (a) loss of trust and confidence; ( b) gross disrespect; ( c) serious misconduct; ( d) gross negligence; ( e) commission of a crime of falsification/inducing Aguipo to violate the law or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code; and (e) committing acts highly prejudicial to the interest of the cooperative. He filed the case for illegal dismissal and money claims.

CMPC maintained that the totality of Carbonilla, Jr.’s infractions was sufficient to warrant his dismissal, and that it had complied with the procedural due process in terminating him.

The Supreme Court held that for serious misconduct to be valid ground for dismissal, termination, the following requisites must concur: (a) the misconduct must be serious; (b) it must relate to the performance of the employee’s duties showing that the employee has become unfit to continue working for the employer; and ( c) it must have been performed with wrongful intent. All of the foregoing requisites have been duly established in this case. Records reveal that Carbonilla, Jr. ‘s serious misconduct consisted of him frequently exhibiting disrespectful and belligerent behavior, not only to his colleagues, but also to his superiors. He even used his stature as a law graduate to insist that he is “above” them, often using misguided legalese to weasel his way out of the charges against him, as well as to strong-arm his colleagues and superiors into succumbing to his arrogance.

His dismissal was also justified on the ground of loss of trust and confidence. He occupied a position of trust and confidence as he was employed as Credit and Collection Manager, and later on, as Legal and Collection Manager. His dismissal on this ground was justified by his acts of forwarding the mediation settlements for notarization to a lawyer who was not the authorized legal retainer of CPMPC; the pulling out of important records and vital documents from the office premises, which were either lost or returned already tampered and altered; and (c) the incurring of unliquidated cash advances related to the notarial transactions of the mediation agreements.

While Carbonilla, Jr. posited that these actuations were resorted with good intentions as he was only finding ways for CPMPC to save up on legal fees, this defense can hardly hold, considering that all of these transactions were not only highly irregular, but also done without the prior knowledge and consent of CPMPC’s management. Cast against this light, Carbonilla, Jr.’s performance of the said acts therefore gives CPMPC more than enough reason to lose trust and confidence in him.

Learn more about the proper notices required to Validly Dismiss Employees 

The totality and gravity of Carbonilla, Jr. ‘s infractions throughout the course of his employment completely justified CPMPC’s decision to finally terminate his employment. The Court’s pronouncement in Realda vs. New Age Graphics, is instructive on this matter:

The totality of infractions or the number of violations committed during the period of employment shall be considered in determining the penalty to be imposed upon an erring employee. The offenses committed by petitioner should not be taken singly and separately. Fitness for continued employment cannot be compartmentalized into tight little cubicles of aspects of character, conduct and ability separate and independent of each other.

(Cebu People’s Multi-purpose Cooperative vs. Carbonilla, Jr., G.R. No. 212070, January 27, 2016)

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