2013 Labor Law Exam Essay Questions

October 21, 2013
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I.

Jose and Erica, former sweethearts, both worked as sales representatives for Magna, a multinational firm engaged in the manufacture and sale of pharmaceutical products. Although the couple had already broken off their relationship, Jose continued to have special feelings for Erica.

One afternoon, Jose chanced upon Erica riding in the car of Paolo, a co-employee and Erica’s ardent suitor; the two were on their way back to the office from a sales call on Silver Drug, a major drug retailer. In a fit of extreme jealousy, Jose rammed Paolo’s car, causing severe injuries to Paolo and Erica. Jose’s flare up also caused heavy damage to the two company-owned cars they were driving.

(A) As lawyer for Magna, advise the company on whether just and valid grounds exist to dismiss Jose. (4%)

(B) Assuming this time that Magna dismissed Jose from employment for cause and you are the lawyer of Jose, how would you argue the position that Jose’s dismissal was illegal? (4%)

II.

Gamma Company pays its regular employees P350.00 a day, and houses them in a dormitory inside its factory compound in Manila. Gamma Company also provides them with three full meals a day.

In the course of a routine inspection, a Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Inspector noted that the workers’ pay is below the prescribed minimum wage of P426.00 plus P30.00 allowance, and thus required Gamma Company to pay wage differentials.

Gamma Company denies any liability, explaining that after the market value of the company-provided board and lodging are added to the employees’ P350 cash daily wage, the employees’ effective daily rate would be way above the minimum pay required by law. The company counsel further points out that the employees are aware that their food and lodging form part of their salary, and have long accepted the arrangement.

Is the company’s position legally correct?(8%)

III.

Inter-Garments Co. manufactures garments for export and requires its employees to render overtime work ranging from two to three hours a day to meet its clients’ deadlines. Since 2009, it has been paying its employees on overtime an additional 35% of their hourly rate for work rendered in excess of their regular eight working hours.

Due to the slowdown of its export business in 2012, Inter-Garments had to reduce its overtime work; at the same time, it adjusted the overtime rates so that those who worked overtime were only paid an additional 25%instead of the previous 35%. To replace the workers’ overtime rate loss, the company granted a one-time 5% across-the-board wage increase.

Vigilant Union, the rank-and-file bargaining agent, charged the company with Unfair Labor Practice on the ground that (1) no consultations had been made on who would render overtime work; and (2) the unilateral overtime pay rate reduction is a violation of Article 100 (entitled Prohibition Against Elimination or Diminution of Benefits) of the Labor Code.

Is the union position meritorious? (8%)

IV.

Bobby, who was assigned as company branch accountant in Tarlac where his family also lives, was dismissed by Theta Company after anomalies in the company’s accounts were discovered in the branch Bobby filed a complaint and was ordered reinstated with full backwages after the Labor Arbiter found that he had been denied due process because no investigation actually took place.

Theta Company appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and at the same time wrote Bobby, advising him to report to the main company office in Makati where he would be reinstated pending appeal Bobby refused to comply with his new assignment because Makati is very far from Tarlac and he cannot bring his family to live with him due to the higher cost of living in Makati.

(A) Is Bobby’s reinstatement pending appeal legally correct? (4%)

(B) Advise Bobby on the best course of action to take under the circumstances. (4%)

V.

Cris filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against Baker Company. The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint but awarded Cris financial assistance. Only the company appealed from the Labor Arbiter’s ruling. It confined its appeal solely to the question of whether financial assistance could be awarded. The NLRC, instead of ruling solely on the appealed issue, fully reversed the Labor Arbiter’s decision; it found Baker Company liable for illegal dismissal and ordered the payment of separation pay and full backwages.

Through a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, Baker Company challenged the validity of the NLRC ruling. It argued that the NLRC acted with grave abuse of discretion when it ruled on the illegal dismissal issue, when the only issue brought on appeal was the legal propriety of the financial assistance award.

Cris countered that under Article 218(c) of the Labor Code, the NLRC has the authority to “correct, amend, or waive any error, defect or irregularity whether in substance or in form” in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction.

Decide the case. (8%)

VI.

Because of the stress in caring for her four (4) growing children, Tammy suffered a miscarriage late in her pregnancy and had to undergo an operation. In the course of the operation, her obstetrician further discovered a suspicious-looking mass that required the subsequent removal of her uterus (hysterectomy). After surgery, her physician advised Tammy to be on full bed rest for six (6) weeks. Meanwhile, the biopsy of the sample tissue taken from the mass in Tammy’s uterus showed a beginning malignancy that required an immediate series of chemotherapy once a week for four (4) weeks.

(A) What benefits can Tammy claim under existing social legislation? (4%)

(B) What can Roger-Tammy’s 2nd husband and the father of her two (2) younger children -claim as benefits under the circumstances? (4%)

VII.

Philippine Electric Company is engaged in electric power generation and distribution. It is a unionized company with Kilusang Makatao as the union representing its rank-and-file employees. During the negotiations for their expired collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the parties duly served their proposals and counter-proposals on one another. The parties, however, failed to discuss the merits of their proposals and counter-proposals in any formal negotiation meeting because their talks already bogged down on the negotiation ground rules, i.e., on the question of how they would conduct their negotiations, particularly on whether to consider retirement as a negotiable issue.

Because of the continued impasse, the union went on strike. The Secretary of Labor and Employment immediately assumed jurisdiction over the dispute to avert widespread electric power interruption in the country. After extensive discussions and the filing of position papers (before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board and before the Secretary himself) on the validity of the union’s strike and on the wage and other economic issues (including the retirement issue), the DOLE Secretary ruled on the validity of the strike and on the disputed CBA issues, and ordered the parties to execute a CBA based on his rulings.

Did the Secretary of Labor exceed his jurisdiction when he proceeded to rule on the parties’ CBA positions even though the parties did not fully negotiate on their own? (8%)

VIII.

After thirty (30) years of service, Beta Company compulsorily retired Albert at age 65 pursuant to the company’s Retirement Plan. Albert was duly paid his full retirement benefits of one (1) month pay for every year of service under the Plan. Thereafter, out of compassion, the company allowed Albert to continue working and paid him his old monthly salary rate, but without the allowances that he used to enjoy.

After five (5) years under this arrangement, the company finally severed all employment relations with Albert; he was declared fully retired in a fitting ceremony but the company did not give him any further retirement benefits. Albert thought this treatment unfair as he had rendered full service at his usual hours in the past five (5) years. Thus, he filed a complaint for the allowances that were not paid to him, and for retirement benefits for his additional five (5) working years, based either on the company’s Retirement Plan or the Retirement Pay Law, whichever is applicable.

(A) After Albert’s retirement at age 65, should he be considered a regular employee entitled to all his previous salaries and benefits when the company allowed him to continue working? (4%)

(B) Is he entitled to additional retirement benefits for the additional service he rendered after age 65? (4%)

IX.

Pablo works as a driver at the National Tire Company (NTC). He is a member of the Malayang Samahan ng Manggagawa sa NTC, the exclusive rank-and-file collective bargaining representative in the company. The union has a CBA with NTC which contains a union security and a check-off clause. The union security clause contains a maintenance of membership provision that requires all members of the bargaining unit to maintain their membership in good standing with the union during the term of the CBA under pain of dismissal. The check-off clause on the other hand authorizes the company to deduct from union members’ salaries defined amounts of union dues and other fees. Pablo refused to issue an authorization to the company for the check-off of his dues, maintaining that he will personally remit his dues to the union.

(A) Would the NTC management commit unfair labor practice if it desists from checking off Pablo’s union dues for lack of individual authorization from Pablo? (4%)

(B) Can the union charge Pablo with disloyalty for refusing to allow the check off of his union dues and, on this basis, ask the company to dismiss him from employment? (4%)

X.

For ten (10) separate but consecutive yearly contracts, Cesar has been deployed as an able-bodied seaman by Meritt Shipping, through its local agent, Ace Maritime Services (agency), in accordance with the 2000Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Standard Employment Contract (2000 POEA-SEC). Cesar’s employment was also covered by a CBA between the union, AMOSl.JP, and Meritt Shipping. Both the 2000 POEA-SEC and the CBA commonly provide the same mode and procedures for claiming disability benefits. Cesar’s last contract (for nine months) expired on July 15, 2013.

Cesar disembarked from the vessel M/V Seven Seas on July 16, 2013as a seaman on “finished contract”. He immediately reported to the agency and complained that he had been experiencing spells of dizziness, nausea, general weakness, and difficulty in breathing. The agency referred him to Dr. Sales, a cardio-pulmonary specialist, who examined and treated him; advised him to take a complete rest for a while; gave him medications; and declared him fit to resume work as a seaman.

After a month, Cesar went back to the agency to ask for re-deployment. The agency rejected his application. Cesar responded by demanding total disability benefits based on the ailments that he developed and suffered while on board Meritt Shipping vessels. The claim was based on the certification of his physician (internist Dr. Reyes) that he could no longer undertake sea duties because of the hypertension and diabetes that afflicted him while serving on Meritt Shipping vessels in the last 10 years. Rejected once again, Cesar filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and the payment of total permanent disability benefits against the agency and its principal.

Assume that you are the Labor Arbiter deciding the case. Identify the facts and issues you would consider material in resolving the illegal dismissal and disability complaint. Explain your choices and their materiality, and resolve the case. (8%)

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