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 "The employer's act of tearing to pieces the employee's time card may be considered an outright - not only symbolic - termination of the parties' employment relationship."

FACTS:

San Joaquin and Fernandez (respondents) were employed by Vicente Ang (petitioner) in his business as helper and driver respectively.  In a hearing relative to 41 criminal cases filed by his former employee, the respondents testified against the petitioner.  After that, the latter began to treat them with hostility and antagonism.

One day, a heated argument between San Joaquin and Ang's wife Rosa took place, in view of the former's refusal to obey her her instruction to transfer the monobloc chairs in her restaurant.  Upon reporting for work two days later, he found out that his DTR was torn into pieces by Ang.  He learned that the DTR of Fernandez also suffered the same fate after they testified in Court.

Fernandez was suspended for a week for insubordination but the act of insubordination was not specified by Ang in his memorandum to the latter.

Respondents filed complaints for illegal constructive dismissal.

ISSUE:

Whether tearing of DTRs of the employees by the employer constitutes constructive dismissal.

HELD:

“Constructive dismissal exists where there is cessation of work because continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely, as an offer involving a demotion in rank and a diminution in pay.” It is a “dismissal in disguise or an act amounting to dismissal but made to appear as if it were not.” Constructive dismissal may likewise exist if an “act of clear discrimination, insensibility, or disdain by an employer becomes so unbearable on the part of the employee that it could foreclose any choice by him except to forego his continued employment.” “Constructive dismissal exists when the employee involuntarily resigns due to the harsh, hostile, and unfavorable conditions set by the employer.” “The test of constructive dismissal is whether a reasonable person in the employee’s position would have felt compelled to give up his position under the circumstances.”

"The CA is correct in its pronouncement that respondents were constructively dismissed from work. Moreover, by destroying respondents’ time cards, Ang discontinued and severed his relationship with respondents. The purpose of a time record is to show an employee’s attendance in office for work and to be paid accordingly, taking into account the policy of “no work, no pay”. A daily time record is primarily intended to prevent damage or loss to the employer, which could result in instances where it pays an employee for no work done; it is a mandatory requirement for inclusion in the payroll, and in the absence of an employment agreement,it constitutes evidence of employment. Thus, when Ang tore the respondents’ time cards to pieces, he virtually removed them from Virose’s payroll and erased all vestiges of respondents’ employment; respondents were effectively dismissed from work. The act may be considered an outright – not only symbolic – termination of the parties’ employment relationship; the “last straw that finally broke the camel’s back”, as respondents put it in their Position Paper."

see full text of case here.

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