SC holds Baguio school liable for illegally dismissing teacher who got pregnant
MANILA, Philippines–The Supreme Court has ruled that the pregnancy of a schoolteacher out of wedlock is not a just cause for termination of an employment in the absence of proof that the premarital sexual relation was indeed disgraceful or immoral.
The Supreme Court’s public information office (PIO) on Friday said the high tribunal denied the petition filed by Union School International in Baguio City, which contested the ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) that found the school guilty of illegally dismissing teacher Charley Jane Dagdag.
The high court issued the decision on Nov. 21, 2018.
Dagdag was an elementary school teacher employed on a probationary status by the school when she learned that she was eight weeks and five days pregnant. She informed her superiors of her pregnancy and that the father of her child was marrying another woman.
When she did not report for work without informing Union School, she was suspended for four days. Another day was added to her suspension as this was her second offense.
As Dagdag was single, the school’s grievance committee discussed her resignation and whether to charge her with gross immorality.
Dagdag agreed to resign after she was apprised of the possible consequences if she was dismissed as it might affect her next job application.
Petition without merit
But on the same day, she filed a complaint against Union School, headed by its superintendent, Abraham Cho, and president, Jamie Nabua, for illegal dismissal, nonpayment of salaries and benefits, moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees.
The Supreme Court found the petition filed by Union School without merit and agreed with the CA’s finding that Dagdag had been constructively dismissed.
“The test of constructive dismissal is whether a reasonable person would have felt compelled to give up his employment/position under the circumstances. As aptly observed by the Court of Appeals, [the] act of suggesting that Dagdag should simply tender her resignation, as the school may impose harsher penalties, left Dagdag with no choice but to discontinue working for Union School,” the court ruled.
The high tribunal noted the outcome of the grievance meeting was already predetermined as school authorities were resolute in their decision to terminate Dagdag’s employment.
The PIO statement did not state the monetary damages or other awards, if any, that the court ordered Union School to pay Dagdag.
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