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GELMART INDUSTRIES PHILS., INC., petitioner,
THE HON. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION AND FELIX FRANCIS, respondents.
G.R. No. 85668
August 10, 1989
Private respondent Felix Francis started working as an auto-mechanic for petitioner Gelmart Industries Phils., Inc. (hereinafter referred to as GELMART) sometime in 1971
As such, his work consisted of the repair of engines and underchassis, as well as trouble shooting and overhauling of company vehicles. He is likewise entrusted with some tools and spare parts in furtherance of the work assigned to him.
On April 11, 1987, private respondent was caught by the security guards taking out of GELMART's premises one (1) plastic container filled with about 16 ounces of "used' motor oil, without the necessary gate pass to cover the same as required under GELMART's rules and regulations. By reason thereof, petitioner, on April 13, 1987, was placed under preventive suspension pending investigation for violation of company rules and regulations. Under the said rules, theft and/or pilferage of company property merits an outright termination from employment.
After due investigation, or on May 20, 1987, private respondent was found guilty of theft of company property. As a consequence, his services were severed.
Thereafter, private respondent filed a complaint for illegal dismissal before the NLRC. In a decision dated February 26, 1988, Labor Arbiter Ceferina J. Diosana ruled that private respondent was illegally dismissed and, accordingly, ordered the latter's reinstatement with full backwages from April 13, 1987 up to the time of actual reinstatement.
Whether or not the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in ordering the reinstatement of private respondent to his former position with payment of backwages equivalent to six (6) months.
Consistent with the policy of the State to bridge the gap between the underprivileged workingmen and the more affluent employers, the NLRC rightfully tilted the balance in favor of the workingmen — and this was done without being blind to the concomitant right of the employer to the protection of his property.
Thus, without being too harsh to the employer, on the one hand, and naively liberal to labor, on the other, the NLRC correctly pointed out that private respondent cannot totally escape liability for what is patently a violation of company rules and regulations.
Considering that private respondent herein has no previous derogatory record in his fifteen (15) years of service with petitioner GELMART the value of the property pilfered (16 ounces of used motor oil) is very minimal, plus the fact that petitioner failed to reasonably establish that non-dismissal of private respondent would work undue prejudice to the viability of their operation or is patently inimical to the company's interest, it is more in consonance with the policy of the State, as embodied in the Constitution, to resolve all doubts in favor of labor.
Acknowledgement: Peter De Guzman