Hantex Trading Co., Inc. vs Court of Appeals
390 SCRA 181 – Labor Law – Labor Relations – Constructive Dismissal – Refusal to be reinstated not necessarily abandonment
In 1994, Bernardo Singson was hired as a sales agent by Hantex Trading Co., Inc. He earns Php165.00 a day but he gets commission pay for every laminating machine he was able to sell. In February 1996, Hantex, through Mariano Chua (its president), called the attention of Singson due to his bad performance. But Singson’s performance did not improve. As a result thereof, Chua called Singson for a conference in August 1996.
What happened in that conference is unclear. But three days thereafter, Singson filed a case for illegal dismissal against Hantex. One of his demands was for him to be reinstated. In its defense, Hantex claimed that there was no illegal dismissal. Hantex claimed that Singson actually abandoned his job way back February 1996 after he was reprimanded because his performance continued to deteriorate. Hantex presented evidence of Singson’s deteriorating performance.
In its pleadings submitted to the Labor Arbiter, Hantex offered Singson reinstatement. But Singson refused to be reinstated. The Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of Singson. Hantex appealed but the NLRC (National Labor Relations Commission) affirmed the Labor Arbiter’s decision. So did the Court of Appeals upon furtehr appeal by Hantex. In all its pleadings, Hantex continued to offer reinstatement to Singson but the latter refused.
ISSUE: Whether or not the continued refusal of Singson to be reinstated, despite his prayer for reinstatement, constitute abandonment.
HELD: No. Singson’s refusal to be reinstated is more of a symptom of strained relations between the parties, rather than an indicium of abandonment of work. While Singson desires to have his job back, it must have later dawned on him that the filing of the complaint for illegal dismissal and the bitter incidents that followed have sundered the erstwhile harmonious relationship between the parties. Singson must have surely realized that even if reinstated, he will find it uncomfortable to continue working under the hostile eyes of the employer who had been forced to reinstate him. He had every reason to fear that if he accepted Hantex’s offer, their watchful eyes would thereafter be focused on him, to detect every small shortcoming of his as a ground for vindictive disciplinary action. In such instance, reinstatement would no longer be beneficial to him.
The Supreme Court also noted that poor performance does not necessarily mean abandonment on the part of the employee.