SC: Nondisclosure of work history not always ground for dismissal
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has ruled that nondisclosure of a previous employment is not always a valid ground for dismissal from service.
In an 18-page decision promulgated on June 15 but made public only recently, the high court said “the penalty must be commensurate to the offense involved and to the degree of the infraction.”
Penned by Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul Inting, the Supreme Court’s Third Division reversed the June 7, 2019, ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) which set aside the ruling of the labor arbiter and the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) on the illegality of the dismissal of Nancy Claire Pit Celis by the Bank of Makati Inc.
According to the summary of decision issued by the Supreme Court public information office, the Bank of Makati hired Celis in July 2013 as an account officer, but toward the end of 2017, the bank said it received information that she was previously employed by the Rural Bank of Placer in Surigao del Norte and she was allegedly involved in a case concerning embezzlement of funds.
Celis did not include that information in her job application with Bank of Makati and was dismissed for “knowingly giving false or misleading information in applications for employment, as a result of which employment is secured.”
This prompted Celis to file a complaint for illegal dismissal, monetary claims and damages against the Bank of Makati, arguing that the omission of her past employment was done in good faith and that the Bank of Makati failed to prove her involvement in the embezzlement case.
The labor arbiter ruled in favor of Celis and the ruling was upheld by the NLRC, but it was overturned by the CA.
In reversing the CA ruling, the Supreme Court stressed the constitutional policy that whenever there are doubts in the interpretation of labor legislation and contracts, the former should be resolved in favor of labor.
The court noted that Celis had been working for the Bank of Makati for almost five years when it raised, out of the blue, the issue regarding her undisclosed past employment.
“To the court, such matter is already water under the bridge. Likewise, the fact that [Bank of Makati] suddenly created an issue about [Celis’] undisclosed past employment lends credence to her allegation that the charge against her was only precipitated by her discovery of the corrupt practices involving her division head and her department head,” it said.
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