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SCRUTINIZING THE DIFFERENT

APPROACHES IN LABOR CASES


USING THE BASIC TECHNIQUES
IN LEGAL REASONING

In partial fulfillment in the requirements


in Legal Technique

Submitted by:

Muñoz, Marlie S.
Tan, Knizza Valerie C.

Submitted to:

Atty. Warren
INTRODUCTION

It has been said that the law is what the Supreme Court says for the final arbiter of all cases shall be the
Supreme Court and its decisions form part of the law of the land. This has been embodied under
Section 8 of the Civil Code of the Philippines that states “Judicial decisions applying or interpreting
the laws or the Constitution shall form part of the legal system in the Philippines.” Therefore, to adhere
to precedents and not to unsettle things which are established is the rule and that once a question law
has been examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument.

The Court further explained its ratio and the importance of the doctrine in this manner:

“Time and again, the court has held that it is a very desirable and necessary
judicial practice that when a court has laid down a principle of law as
applicable to a certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle and apply
it to all future cases in which the facts are substantially the same. Stare decisis
et non quieta movere. Stand by the decisions and disturb not what is
settled. Stare decisis simply means that for the sake of certainty, a conclusion
reached in one case should be applied to those that follow if the facts are
substantially the same, even though the parties may be different. It proceeds
from the first principle of justice that, absent any powerful countervailing
considerations, like cases ought to be decided alike.Thus, where the same
questions relating to the same event have been put forward by the parties
similarly situated as in a previous case litigated and decided by a competent
court, the rule of stare decisis is a bar to any attempt to relitigate the same
issue.” (550 SCRA 132)

However, this rule on stare decisis has its exception. Any abadonment thereof must be based only on
strong and compelling reasons and only upon showing that circumstances attendant in a particular case
override the great benefits from stare decisis can the courts be justified in setting aside the same. Thus
in our jurisprudence, it is not uncommon to see that there are decisions on cases which more or less
have the same facts but ended up with different rulings.

So we might ask ourselves, “How does the Supreme Court arrive in such decision when clearly these
cases have the same facts?” This question is better answered by the use of techniques in legal
reasoning.

In this Legal Technique subject it is our goal to practice our legal way of reasoning elevating it from the
ordinary reasoning of a layman. The proper usage of our human senses is a way to cultivate such
reasoning. As previously been discussed in our undergraduate studies that based from the use of our
basic senses our brain processes all the information it perceived, out from our observation with the use
of our basic senses we could arrived at a conclusion of what we perceived. As we observed our
surrounding we consider questions coming out and we try to find answers to it and in the verge of
finding the answer we try to think the appropriate answers to it.

Having this subject of legal technique, we find it beneficial in our study especially as aspiring law
practioners someday. This subject help in stirring our legal reasoning as the practice of law involves a
critical exercise of reasoning and one of the basic sources of such reasoning comes from the very law
we are studying and such law was made to apply to distinct facts presented before the law students and
the law practioners. It may need the consultation of conscience in arriving at a conclusion.
Legal reasoning is a vital tool in the legal profession. It was further stated that legal knowledge if
formed by the rules on logic. (Vergara, 2017) In view of such notion of Vergara, this group report
helps us in exercising the mastery of legal reasoning as part of our study in law.

We are inclined to report on the conflicting jurisprudence decided by the Supreme Court and to
analyze the methods they used in arriving at such decision. We basically chose labor cases,
particularly of the grant or denial of the award of separation pay and financial assistance on
dismissed employees based on just cause.

In particular, the cases which will be used for comparison are those which tackle decisions on
Labor laws especially under the topics of dismissals and compassionate justice. These cases are
specifically chosen because the lack of consistency and adherence in most court decisions are
most pronounced in in cases involving labor disputes.
ANALYSIS

It has long been settled by the Supreme Court in the case of Almira vs BF Goodrich (GR No.
34974, July 25, 1974) that “labor law determinations, to quote from Bultmann, should be not
only secundum rationem but also secundum caritatem”. In arriving in that decision, the Supreme
Court used inductive reasoning by using the circumstances surrounding in the case.

In here, the Court took note these circumstances:


1. As previously noted, both petitioners and private respondent were guilty of practices far
from peaceful in character.
2. From the standpoint of settling a dispute, it would not suffice just to visit recriminations
on either or both parties. The more crucial question is what to do next.
3. We start with the circumstances that ought to be considered. To repeat, the breach of the
peace, though started by petitioners, was not solely their responsibility as it turned out.
4. It would imply at the very least that where a penalty less punitive would suffice, whatever
missteps may be committed by labor ought not to be visited with a consequence so
severe. It is not only because of the law's concern for the workingman. There is, in
addition, his family to consider. Unemployment brings untold hardships and sorrows on
those dependent on the wage-earner. The misery and pain attendant on the loss of jobs
then could be avoided if there be acceptance of the view that under all the circumstances
of this case, petitioners should not be deprived of their means of livelihood. Nor is this to
condone what had been done by them. For all this while, since private respondent
considered them separated from the service, they had not been paid. From the strictly
juridical standpoint, it cannot be too strongly stressed, to follow Davis in his masterly
work, Discretionary Justice, that where a decision may be made to rest an informed
judgment rather than rigid rules, all the equities of the case must be accorded their due
weight.

As can be observed, it seems that the decision of the Court was arrived by first pointing out a
conclusive fact—that is, the parties are guilty of the alleged practices. However, it proceeded to
apply the factors which led the happening of the act—that is, it was not the fault of the workers
alone but the employers as well. This led the Court to apply the rationale that if they would
strictly apply the law against the workers, it would destroy the real intention behind the law. In
the end, the Court applied the well-settled rule that the Constitution protects the rights of those
who have less in life. It concluded the basic principle in all labor laws—that the laws should not
be based solely on reasoning but also in charity and equity.

This has been the basis of the Supreme Court decisions in all labor disputes until the case of
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company vs NLRC and Marilyn Abucay (GR No. 80609)
in 1988. The Supreme Court said:

“The policy of social justice is not intended to countenance wrongdoing


simply because it is committed by the underprivileged. At best it may
mitigate the penalty but it certainly will not condone the offense.
Compassion for the poor is an imperative of every humane society but
only when the recipient is not a rascal claiming an undeserved privilege.
Social justice cannot be permitted to be refuge of scoundrels any more
than can equity be an impediment to the punishment of the guilty. Those
who invoke social justice may do so only if their hands are clean and
their motives blameless and not simply because they happen to be poor.
This great policy of our Constitution is not meant for the protection of
those who have proved they are not worthy of it, like the workers who
have tainted the cause of labor with the blemishes of their own
character.”

In this case, the petitioner used arguments such as:


1. It is conceded that an employee illegally dismissed is entitled to reinstatement and
backwages as required by the labor laws.
2. However, an employee dismissed for cause is entitled to neither reinstatement nor
backwages and is not allowed any relief at all because his dismissal is in accordance with
law.
3. In the case of the private respondent, she has been awarded financial assistance
equivalent to ten months pay corresponding to her 10 year service in the company despite
her removal for cause.
4. She is, therefore, in effect rewarded rather than punished for her dishonesty, and without
any legal authorization or justification. The award is made on the ground of equity and
compassion, which cannot be a substitute for law. Moreover, such award puts a premium
on dishonesty and encourages instead of deterring corruption.

From the technique of the petitioner, it clearly used deductive reasoning in arriving in a
conclusion which is the necessary outcome based on the facts. For the petitioner, it only applied
what the law clearly says based on the circumstances surrounding the case. Necessarily, to
adhere on mere equity with a clear disregard on the law would put them at a disadvantage.

This technique, however, was countered by the respondent in an inductive manner of reasoning,
to wit:
1. The employee is sufficiently punished with her dismissal.
2. The grant of financial assistance is not intended as a reward for her offense but merely to
help her for the loss of her employment after working faithfully with the company for ten
years.
3. In support of this position, the Solicitor General cites the cases xxx where the employees
were dismissed for cause but were nevertheless allowed separation pay on grounds of
social and compassionate justice.

It can be gleaned that from this technique, the respondent premised on particular facts such as the
employee being sufficently punished. However, it then concluded that the award of financial
assitance would merely help her after faithfullyworking with the employer for years. It
proceeded to end his arguments by citing jurisprudence and general principles of law such as the
Doctrine of compassionate Justice.

How then did the Supreme Court arrive in its decision? While both arguments of the parties were
reasonable, the Supreme Court applied the Inductive reasoning method which started by stating
what the law clearly says and even cited cases that supports it. Thus:

“The rule embodied in the Labor Code is that a person dismissed for
cause as defined therein is not entitled to separation pay.”

However, it proceeded by giving the definition of what Equity is:

“Equity has been defined as justice outside law, being ethical rather
than jural and belonging to the sphere of morals than of law. It is
grounded on the precepts of conscience and not on any sanction of
positive law.”

Yet, it concluded its argument by stating that it cannot however prevail over the precepts of the
law, thus:
1. Hence, it cannot prevail against the expressed provision of the labor laws allowing
dismissal of employees for cause and without any provision for separation pay.”
2. We note that heretofore the separation pay, when it was considered warranted, was
required regardless of the nature or degree of the ground proved, be it mere inefficiency
or something graver like immorality or dishonesty.
3. The benediction of compassion was made to cover a multitude of sins, as it were, and to
justify the helping hand to the validly dismissed employee whatever the reason for his
dismissal.
4. This policy should be re-examined. It is time we rationalized the exception, to make it
fair to both labor and management, especially to labor.
5. This kind of misplaced compassion is not going to do labor in general any good as it will
encourage the infiltration of its ranks by those who do not deserve the protection and
concern of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court utilizes deductive reasoning by first laying the law then analyzing the facts
presented. It made a stern approach in the application of the law yet it loosens itself with the use
of equitable reasoning which is clearly not in the exact context of the law. Such that, when they
decided this case, the Supreme Court here clearly imposes the language of the law in not
awarding the separation pay and financial assistance but it made also a distinction which
basically provides for an exception to the application of the law to wit:

“The rule embodied in the Labor Code is that a person dismissed for cause
as defined therein is not entitled to separation pay.”

“The Court feels that distinctions are in order. We note that heretofore the
separation pay, when it was considered warranted, was required regardless
of the nature or degree of the ground proved, be it mere inefficiency or
something graver like immorality or dishonesty. The benediction of
compassion was made to cover a multitude of sins, as it were, and to justify
the helping hand to the validly dismissed employee whatever the reason for
his dismissal. This policy should be re-examined. It is time we rationalized
the exception, to make it fair to both labor and management, especially to
labor.”

Thus the Court first laid down the rule as embodied in the law in the process of resolving the
case then it eventually made an exception based from the statute. It also based its exemption of
equity, which is clearly not laid down in the law and made definition in relation to it, to wit:

“The cases above cited constitute the exception, based upon considerations
of equity. Equity has been defined as justice outside law, 14 being ethical
rather than jural and belonging to the sphere of morals than of law. 15 It is
grounded on the precepts of conscience and not on any sanction of positive
law. 16 Hence, it cannot prevail against the expressed provision of the labor
laws allowing dismissal of employees for cause and without any provision
for separation pay.”

In the process of resolving the case, it also made reference to the argument of the respondent
when it cited other cases previously decided by the court which also have been the gauge of
arriving at the exception.

When the Supreme Court arrived at the conclusion it already harmonized the law and the
equitable circumstances that would warrant the exception and well as the argument of the parties
in the case, to wit:

“We hold that henceforth separation pay shall be allowed as a measure of


social justice only in those instances where the employee is validly
dismissed for causes other than serious misconduct or those reflecting on
his moral character. Where the reason for the valid dismissal is, for
example, habitual intoxication or an offense involving moral turpitude, like
theft or illicit sexual relations with a fellow worker, the employer may not
be required to give the dismissed employee separation pay, or financial
assistance, or whatever other name it is called, on the ground of social
justice.

A contrary rule would, as the petitioner correctly argues, have the effect, of
rewarding rather than punishing the erring employee for his offense. And
we do not agree that the punishment is his dismissal only and that the
separation pay has nothing to do with the wrong he has committed. Of
course it has. Indeed, if the employee who steals from the company is
granted separation pay even as he is validly dismissed, it is not unlikely
that he will commit a similar offense in his next employment because he
thinks he can expect a like leniency if he is again found out. This kind of
misplaced compassion is not going to do labor in general any good as it
will encourage the infiltration of its ranks by those who do not deserve the
protection and concern of the Constitution.

The policy of social justice is not intended to countenance wrongdoing


simply because it is committed by the underprivileged. At best it may
mitigate the penalty but it certainly will not condone the offense.
Compassion for the poor is an imperative of every humane society but only
when the recipient is not a rascal claiming an undeserved privilege. Social
justice cannot be permitted to be refuge of scoundrels any more than can
equity be an impediment to the punishment of the guilty. Those who invoke
social justice may do so only if their hands are clean and their motives
blameless and not simply because they happen to be poor. This great policy
of our Constitution is not meant for the protection of those who have proved
they are not worthy of it, like the workers who have tainted the cause of
labor with the blemishes of their own character.

Applying the above considerations, we hold that the grant of separation


pay in the case at bar is unjustified. The private respondent has been
dismissed for dishonesty, as found by the labor arbiter and affirmed by the
NLRC and as she herself has impliedly admitted. The fact that she has
worked with the PLDT for more than a decade, if it is to be considered at
all, should be taken against her as it reflects a regrettable lack of loyalty
that she should have strengthened instead of betraying during all of her 10
years of service with the company. If regarded as a justification for
moderating the penalty of dismissal, it will actually become a prize for
disloyalty, perverting the meaning of social justice and undermining the
efforts of labor to cleanse its ranks of all undesirables.”

Further in the case of Toyota Motor Phils. Corp. Workers Association v National Labor
Relations Commision (October, 2007), it also made a similar approach in deciding the case in
denying the award of separation pay or financial assistance to dismissed employees by reason of
a just cause. It held, to wit:

“The policy on social justice is not intended to countenance wrongdoing


simply because it is committed by the under privileged. At best it may
mitigate the penalty but it certainly will not condone the offense.
Compassion for the poor is an imperative of every humane society but
when the recipient is not a rascal claiming an undeserved privilege. Social
justice cannot be permitted to be refuge of scoundrels any more than can
equity be an impediment to the punishment of the guilty. Those who invoke
social justice may do so only if their hands are clean and their motives
blameless and not simply because they happen to be poor. This great policy
of our Constitution is not meant for the protection of those who have proved
they are not worthy of it, like the workers who have tainted the cause of
labor with the blemishes of their own character.”

In this case which also cites the case previous case of PLDT,supra , the Supreme Court held that
serious misconduct forcloses the award of separation pay. It further defined serious misconduct
as a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of
duty, wilful in character, and implies wrongful intent not mere error in judgment.
It also considers another circumstance which will grant or deny the award of separation pay or
financial assistance based on the argument of the parties, which involves the length of service as
held also in the case of PLDT, supra, to wit:

“The fact that she has worked with the PLDT for more than a decade, if it
is to be considered at all, should be taken against her as it reflects a
regrettable lack of loyalty that she should have strengthened instead of
betraying during all of her 10 years of service with the company. If
regarded as a justification for moderating the penalty of dismissal, it will
actually become a prize for disloyalty, perverting the meaning of social
justice and undermining the efforts of labor to cleanse its ranks of all
undesirables.”

This line of reasoning in arriving in a decision was continuously adopted by the Supreme Court
in the next cases of Tirazona vs Philippine Eds Techno-Service Inc (2009), Reno Foods vs
NLM-Katipunan (2010), BPI vs NLRC (2010), and in Manila Water Company vs Del Rosario
(2014).

However, after a long line of cases, the Supreme Court seemed to go back to its ratio in Almira
vs BF Goodrich in the case of International School Manila vs International School of Alliance
of Educators and Members (February 5, 2014).

In that case , the petitioners used the technique of FIR—or the Facts, Issue, Ruling method based
on law. They stated their arguments, to wit:
1. That Santos’s repeated failure to maintain the standards of quality teaching expected from
every faculty member of the School illustrates her gross and habitual neglect of her
duties, which is a just cause for dismissal under Article 282 of the Labor Code.
2. Petitioners point out that there was neither a finding that such standards were arbitrary,
nor was the evaluation process biased or that the School or any of its personnel was
motivated by ill will against Santos.
3. Petitioners stress that Santos was not dismissed solely on the ground that she failed to
prepare her lesson plan for one particular day. On the contrary, petitioners assert that
Santos was dismissed from employment because she repeatedly failed to meet the
standards required by the school from 1993 to 1997.
4. Despite the application of the Professional Growth Plan, petitioners insist that Santos was
still repeatedly found to be lacking in preparation and planning. Petitioners claim that
Santos’s failure to improve, most especially in the planning area of her teaching, justified
the School’s decision to terminate her services. Otherwise, to retain her in the roster of
faculty would be tantamount to sacrificing the welfare of the School’s very own students.
5. At the very least, petitioners aver that Santos was guilty of gross inefficiency in the
performance of her teaching duties. Petitioners further state that the School observed
procedural due process before dismissing Santos.
6. Since her employment was lawfully terminated, petitioners posit that an award of
separation pay with backwages is not proper.
However, the respondents countered this method using inductive reasoning and appealed based
on the grounds of Equity to this wise:
1. According to the respondents, it cannot be said that Santos did not exercise slight care or
diligence in the performance of her duties as she did exert efforts to make the necessary
adjustments.
2. That Santos was shown to have inadequately prepared a lesson plan in 1997 did not
necessarily show that she was habitually neglectful of her duties. For the said reasons,
respondents also rejected the charge of gross inefficiency.
3. Respondents aver that the administrative superiors of Santos found that she had greatly
improved on her preparations and she was never found wanting in the other areas of her
teaching.
4. Although respondents admit that Santos did indeed perform her duties unsatisfactorily,
they argue that the same does not warrant dismissal.
5. Considering that she had worked with the School for 17 long years with no known
previous bad record, they allege that the ends of social and compassionate justice would
be better served if she was merely suspended from work rather than terminated.

The Supreme Court in this case inclined to the position of the respondents, applying the Doctrine
of Compassionate Justice. It used the inductive reasoning method by first stating to what the law
says. It clearly cited Article 282 of the Labor Code and concluded that:
“What can be gathered from a thorough review of the records of this
case is that the inadequacies of Santos as a teacher did not stem from a
reckless disregard of the welfare of her students or of the issues raised
by the School regarding her teaching. Far from being tainted with bad
faith, Santos’s failings appeared to have resulted from her lack of
necessary skills, in-depth knowledge, and expertise to teach the Filipino
language at the standards required of her by the School.”

However, it upheld the dismissal because the petitioners proved gross inefficiency of the
respondent that negates the employer's standards of efficiency—a prerogative given by the
Constitution itself.

While it proceeded to adhere to the decisions and rulings in PLDT and Toyota cases in justifying
the policy of social justice not being meant to protect those who have given a valid ground for
dismissal, nevertheless it considered the number of years that the employee has rendered in the
school without any past records of gross negligence, to wit:

“In the instant case, the Court finds equitable and proper the award of
separation pay in favor of Santos in view of the length of her service
with the School prior to the events that led to the termination of her
employment. To recall, Santos was first employed by the School in 1978
as a Spanish language teacher. During this time, the records of this case
are silent as to the fact of any infraction that she committed and/or any
other administrative case against her that was filed by the School. Thus,
an award of separation pay equivalent to one-half (1/2) month pay for
every year of service is awarded in favor of Santos on grounds of equity
and social justice.”

Further, the Court in this case has allowed the award of separation pay to the legally dismissed
employee based on just cause when it modified the ruling in PLDT v NLRC, ratiocinating to wit:

“In all of the foregoing situations, the Court declined to grant termination
pay because the causes for dismissal recognized under Art. 282 of the
Labor Code were serious or grave in nature and attended by willful or
wrongful intent or they reflected adversely on the moral character of the
employees. We therefore find that in addition to serious misconduct, in
dismissals based on other grounds under Art. 282 like willful disobedience,
gross and habitual neglect of duty, fraud or willful breach of trust, and
commission of a crime against the employer or his family, separation pay
should not be conceded to the dismissed employee.

In analogous causes for termination like inefficiency, drug use, and


others, the NLRC or the courts may opt to grant separation pay anchored
on social justice in consideration of the length of service of the employee,
the amount involved, whether the act is the first offense, the performance of
the employee and the like, using the guideposts enunciated in PLDT on the
propriety of the award of separation pay. (Emphasis ours.)

In the instant case, the Court finds equitable and proper the award of
separation pay in favor of Santos in view of the length of her service with
the School prior to the events that led to the termination of her employment.
To recall, Santos was first employed by the School in 1978 as a Spanish
language teacher. During this time, the records of this case are silent as to
the fact of any infraction that she committed and/or any other
administrative case against her that was filed by the School. Thus, an
award of separation pay equivalent to one-half (1/2) month pay for every
year of service is awarded in favor of Santos on grounds of equity and
social justice.88”
CONCLUSION

With these line of cases, it can be gleaned that the Supreme Court delineates first the law and
jurisprudence as well as defining terms to clearly understand in invoking the principles and
carefully analyze the facts of the case and how it differs from previous cases, meticulously
balancing the arguments of both sides before it finally arrived at its conclusion.

However, it can also be noticed that the Supreme Court does not use a definite and controlling
method of arriving in a conclusion. This decision-making process of the Court would largely
depend on the arguments, circumstances, and the applicable law which the parties themselves
present using the different kinds, methods, and techniques of legal reasoning.

Further, it must be noted that having different conclusions of law by the Supreme Court does not
in any way demean the final arbiter of the land. Yet, in any case, the labor cases are always a
different matter. For while there is no certainty of permanence of doctrinal rulings in this branch
of law, it always leads us to the only one thig in certain in the practice of law—it is always a
game of chance.
APPENDIX