Published 3 February 2023, The Daily Tribune

Applying for a new job can be tough. Undergoing interviews all over again can be tougher, especially when an applicant is conflicted about whether or not to disclose vital information about himself/herself.

The Supreme Court dwelt on these matters in the case of Nancy Claire Pit Celis vs Bank of Makati (A Savings Bank) Inc., promulgated on 15 June 2022.

Bank of Makati hired Celis in 2013. In 2017, the bank received information that Celis was previously employed by the Rural Bank of Placer (Bank of Placer). She was also involved in a case concerning the embezzlement of funds. Celis did not disclose this information when she applied for the job.

Because of her non-disclosure, the Bank of Makati dismissed Celis, who then filed a complaint for illegal dismissal, monetary claims, and damages. She stressed that her omission of previous employment was not intentional and was done in good faith. Also, the Bank of Makati failed to prove her involvement in the embezzlement case. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in favor of Celis.

Article 297 of the Labor Code of the Philippines enumerates specifically five grounds when an employer may terminate employment. Omission of past employment is not one of them.

The case of Celis is a good precedent to warn employers to be more cautious in imposing penalties, particularly dismissal, against their employees.

DoLE Department Order 147-15 reinforces the provisions of Article 297 of the Labor Code by providing requisites for each ground which would be an effective guideline in terminating employment.

For serious misconduct: (1) there must be misconduct; (2) the misconduct is of such grave and aggravated character; (3) it must relate to the performance of the employee’s duties; and (4) a showing that the employee becomes unfit to continue working for the employer.

While for willful disobedience, it is necessary to show that: (1) there must be disobedience or insubordination; (2) the disobedience or insubordination must be willful or intentional characterized by a wrongful and perverse attitude; (3) the order violated must be reasonable, lawful and made known to the employee; and (4) the order must pertain to the duties which he has been engaged to discharge.

For gross and habitual neglect of duties, it must be demonstrated that: (1) there must be a neglect of duty; and (2) the neglect must be both gross and habitual in character.

For fraud, or willful breach of trust, the employer must show that: (1) there is an act, omission, or concealment; (2) the act, omission, or concealment involves a breach of legal duty, trust, or confidence justly reposed; (3) it must be committed against the employer or his/her representative; and (4) it must be in connection with employee’s work.

While the requisites for loss of confidence are as follows: (1) there must be an act, omission, or concealment; (2) the act, omission, or concealment justifies the loss of trust and confidence of the employer in the employee; (3) the employee concerned must be holding a position of trust and confidence; (4) the loss of trust and confidence should not be simulated; (5) it should not be used as a subterfuge for causes which are improper, illegal or unqualified; and (6) it must be genuine and not a mere afterthought to justify an earlier action taken in bad faith.

In the case of the commission of a crime as a ground for dismissal, it is required that: (1) there must be an act or omission punishable or prohibited by law; and (2) the act or omission was committed by the employee against the person of the employer, his immediate family member, or his duly authorized representative.

And lastly, for analogous causes, the requisites provided for by DoLE DO 147-15 are as follows: (1) there must be an act or omission similar to those specified just causes; and (2) the act or omission must be voluntary, and/or willful on the part of the employee.

So before deciding to terminate employment, an employer, to be spared from litigation, must be guided by law and these department orders.

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