1. Due process despite crime

Commission of a crime does not do away with due process.

When an employee physically assaults the employer or his duly authorized representative like a manager, the Company should still proceed with due process termination.

Many employers mistakenly rely on the investigation conducted by the authorities or the prosecutor. When there is a finding of probable cause resulting in the case being filed in court, several employers incorrectly use this as basis for terminating the employee. This is incorrect.

Employers are still required to conduct its own administrative investigation regarding the incident and comply with due process.

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CASE STUDY

Robinsons Galleria/Robinsons Supermarket Corporation v. Ranchez

G.R. No. 177937, 19 January 2011

[The employee-cashier reported to her supervisor the loss of Php20,000.00 which was in the employee’s custody. After the employee was strip-searched and yielded nothing, she was arrested, charged, and made to underwent inquest proceedings. The fiscal found probable cause and filed a case for qualified theft.]

In the instant case, based on the facts on record, [the employers] failed to accord respondent substantive and procedural due process. The haphazard manner in the investigation of the missing cash, which was left to the determination of the police authorities and the Prosecutor’s Office, left [the employee] with no choice but to cry foul. Administrative investigation was not conducted by [the employer] Supermarket. On the same day that the missing money was reported by [the employee] to her immediate superior, the company already pre-judged her guilt without proper investigation, and instantly reported her to the police as the suspected thief, which resulted in her languishing in jail for two weeks.

the due process requirements under the Labor Code are mandatory and may not be supplanted by police investigation or court proceedings. The criminal aspect of the case is considered independent of the administrative aspect. Thus, employers should not rely solely on the findings of the Prosecutor’s Office. They are mandated to conduct their own separate investigation, and to accord the employee every opportunity to defend himself. Furthermore, [the employee] was not represented by counsel when she was strip-searched inside the company premises or during the police investigation, and in the preliminary investigation before the Prosecutor’s Office.

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Based on the above-mentioned case, it is thus incumbent on the employer to conduct its own and separate administrative investigation on the concerned employee to afford the latter the opportunity to be heard.

a. Conviction, not required

Dismissal may still be done even if the employee is acquitted.

Consequently, “the conviction of an employee in a criminal case is not indispensable to warrant his dismissal by his employer and that the fact that a criminal complaint against the employee has been dropped by the city fiscal is not binding and conclusive upon a labor tribunal.” (Starlite Plastic Industrial Corporation v. Gomez, G.R. No. 78491, 16 March 1989, citing Sea Land Service v. NLRC, G.R. No. 68212, 24 May 1985.)

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CASE STUDY

Piedad v. Lanao Del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc.

G.R. No. 73735, 31 August 1987

[The employee – a Bill Collector – was dismissed after being found to have been short of P300.00 in his collection.]

Indeed, an employer may dismiss an employee for breach of trust in the handling of funds inspite of his having been acquitted in the course of a criminal prosecution. Conviction for a crime involving the loss of such funds is not necessary before the employee may be dismissed… There is more reason for dismissal where the acts of misconduct and willful breach of trust are repeatedly committed by an employee…

Fitness for continued employment cannot be compartmentalized into tight little cubicles of aspects of character, conduct, and ability separate and independent of each other. A series of irregularities when put together may constitute serious misconduct, which under Article [296] of the Labor Code, is a just cause for dismissal…

The precedents on the issue before us are clear. Dismissal of a dishonest employee is to the best interest not only of management but also of labor… As a measure of self-protection against acts inimical to its interest, a company has the right to dismiss its erring employees… An employer cannot be compelled to continue in employment an employee guilty of acts inimical to its interest, justifying loss of confidence in him… The law does not impose unjust situations on either labor or management.

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As discussed in earlier chapters, Labor Law requires simply substantial evidence to prove the guilt of the employees. However, Criminal Law requires a higher degree of proof which is beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, conviction of the crime is not necessary so long as the employer in the administrative investigation is able to establish the liability of the employee via substantial evidence.