G.R. No. 198967, 7 March 2016
On March 11, 1996, respondent Crisanto P. Uson (Uson) began his employment with Royal Class Venture Phils., Inc. (Royal Class Venture) as an accounting clerk. Eventually, he was promoted to the position of accounting supervisor, with a salary of Php13,000.00 a month, until he was allegedly dismissed from employment on December 20, 2000. The Labor Arbiter rendered a decision in favor of Uson, RCVPI did not file an appeal but repeated issuances of Writs of Execution against the same remained unsatisfied. Uson filed another Motion for Alias Writ of Execution and to Hold Directors and Officers of Respondent Liable for the Decision.
Labor Arbiter granted the motion filed by respondent and held herein petitioner Jose Emmanuel Guillermo, in his personal capacity jointly and severally liable with the corporation stating that the officers of the corporation are jointly and severally liable for the obligations of the corporation (“piercing the veil of corporate fiction”) to the employees even if the said officers were not parties to the case.
Guillermo filed a Motion for Reconsideration/To Set Aside the Order of the labor arbiter. His contentions were a) officers cannot be included as judgement obligor in a labor case for the first time only after the decision of the Labor Arbiter had become final and executory b) in piercing the veil of RCVPI, he was allegedly discriminated against when he alone was belatedly impleaded despite the existence of other officers of RCVPI; c)that the labor arbiter has no jurisdiction because the case is one of an intra-corporate controversy, with the complainant Uson also claiming to be a stockholder and director of the corporation.
Whether the twin doctrines of “piercing the veil of corporate fiction” and personal liability of company officers in labor cases apply.
YES. The veil of corporate fiction can be pierced, and responsible corporate directors and officers or even a separate but related corporation, may be impleaded and held answerable solidarily in a labor case, even after final judgment and on execution, so long as it is established that such persons have deliberately used the corporate vehicle to unjustly evade the judgment obligation, or have resorted to fraud, bad faith or malice in doing so.
The records of the present case bear allegations and evidence that Guillermo, the officer being held liable, is the person responsible in the actual running of the company and for the malicious and illegal dismissal of the complainant; he, likewise, was shown to have a role in dissolving the original obligor company in an obvious “scheme to avoid liability” which jurisprudence has always looked upon with a suspicious eye in order to protect the rights of labor. Then, it is also clearly reflected in the records that it was Guillermo himself, as President and General Manager of the company, who received the summons to the case, and who also subsequently and without justifiable cause refused to receive all notices and orders of the Labor Arbiter that followed.
Finally, the records likewise bear that Guillermo dissolved Royal Class Venture and helped incorporate a new firm, located in the same address as the former, wherein he is again a stockl1older. The foregoing clearly indicate a pattern or scheme to avoid the obligations to Uson and frustrate the execution of the judgment award, which this Court, in the interest of justice, will not countenance.
*Case digest by Earl M. Acoymo, Refresher, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2019-2020