Philippine Telegraph v. National Labor Relations Commission

G.R. No. 118978, 23 May 1997

FACTS:

PT&T (Philippine Telegraph & Telephone Company) initially hired Grace de Guzman specifically as reliever for C.F. Tenorio who went on maternity leave. She was again invited for employment as replacement of Erlina F. Dizon who went on leave on 2 periods. De Guzman was again asked to join PT&T as a probationary employee. She indicated in the portion of the job application form under civil status that she was single although she had contracted marriage a few months earlier.

When petitioner learned later about the marriage, its branch supervisor sent de Guzman a memorandum requiring her to explain the discrepancy including a reminder about the company’s policy of not accepting married women for employment. She was dismissed from the company and Labor Arbiter handed down a decision declaring that petitioner illegally dismissed de Guzman, who had already gained the status of a regular employee. It was apparent that she had been discriminated on account of her having contracted marriage in violation of company policies.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the alleged concealment of civil status can be grounds to terminate the services of an employee.

RULING:

No. Private respondent’s act of concealing the true nature of her status from PT&T could not be properly characterized as in bad faith as she was moved to act the way she did mainly because she wanted to retain a permanent job in a stable company. Thus, could not be a ground to terminate her services.

Article 136 of the Labor Code, one of the protective laws for women, explicitly prohibits discrimination merely by reason of marriage of a female employee. It is recognized that company is free to regulate manpower and employment from hiring to firing, according to their discretion and best business judgment, except in those cases of unlawful discrimination or those provided by law.

PT&T’s policy of not accepting or disqualifying from work any woman worker who contracts marriage is afoul of the right against discrimination provided to all women workers by our labor laws and by our Constitution. The record discloses clearly that de Guzman’s ties with PT&T were dissolved principally because of the company’s policy that married women are not qualified for employment in the company, and not merely because of her supposed acts of dishonesty.

The policy of PT&T is in derogation of the provisions stated in Art.136 of the Labor Code on the right of a woman to be free from any kind of stipulation against marriage in connection with her employment and it likewise is contrary to good morals and public policy, depriving a woman of her freedom to choose her status, a privilege that is inherent in an individual as an intangible and inalienable right. The kind of policy followed by PT&T strikes at the very essence, ideals and purpose of marriage as an inviolable social institution and ultimately, family as the foundation of the nation. Such policy must be prohibited in all its indirect, disguised or dissembled forms as discriminatory conduct derogatory of the laws of the land not only for order but also imperatively required. However, SC nevertheless ruled that Grace did commit an act of dishonesty, which should be sanctioned and therefore agreed with the NLRC’s decision that the dishonesty warranted temporary suspension of Grace from work.

* Case digest by Frillin M. Lomosad, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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