G.R. No. 157900, 22 July 2013
San Miguel brought a complaint for unfair labor practice, illegal dismissal, non-payment of salaries and moral damages against petitioner, formerly known as Zeta Brokerage Corporation (Zeta). He alleged that he had been a checker/customs representative of Zeta since December 16, 1985; that in January 1994, he and other employees of Zeta were informed that Zeta would cease operations, and that all affected employees, including him, would be separated. He reluctantly accepted his separation pay subject to the standing offer to be hired to his former position by petitioner; and that on April 15, 1994, he was summarily terminated, without any valid cause and due process. ZETA contented that it is no longer liable since it has changed its name thus its operations has already ceased.
The Labor Arbiter rendered a decision that ZETA be liable for it had merely changed its name and has not truly ceased operations. When the case was elevated to the CA, it likewise rendered a decision against petitioner ZETA.
Whether or not ZETA has closed its operations valid to be held liable?
From the foregoing documents, it cannot be denied that petitioner corporation was aware of First Summa Savings and Mortgage Bank’s change of corporate name to PAIC Savings and Mortgage Bank, Inc. Knowing fully well of such change, petitioner corporation has no valid reason not to pay because the IGLF loans were applied with and obtained from First Summa Savings and Mortgage Bank. First Summa Savings and Mortgage Bank and PAIC Savings and Mortgage Bank, Inc., are one and the same bank to which petitioner corporation is indebted. A change in the corporate name does not make a new corporation, whether effected by a special act or under a general law. It has no effect on the identity of the corporation, or on its property, rights, or liabilities. The corporation, upon such change in its name, is in no sense a new corporation, nor the successor of the original corporation. It is the same corporation with a different name, and its character is in no respect changed. (Bold underscoring supplied for emphasis)
In short, Zeta and petitioner remained one and the same corporation. The change of name did not give petitioner the license to terminate employees of Zeta like San Miguel without just or authorized cause. The situation was not similar to that of an enterprise buying the business of another company where the purchasing company had no obligation to rehire terminated employees of the latter. Petitioner, despite its new name, was the mere continuation of Zeta’s corporate being, and still held the obligation to honor all of Zeta’s obligations, one of which was to respect San Miguel’s security of tenure. The dismissal of San Miguel from employment on the pretext that petitioner, being a different corporation, had no obligation to accept him as its employee, was illegal and ineffectual.
*Case Digest by Claudette Anne G. Sayson JD IV, S.Y. 2019-2020