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G.R. No. L-62909 April 18, 1989
HYDRO RESOURCES CONTRACTORS CORPORATION, petitioner,
LABOR ARBITER ADRIAN N. PAGALILAUAN and the NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, public respondents, and ROGELIO A. ABAN, private respondent.
Petitioner corporation hired the private respondent Aban as its "Legal Assistant” and received basic monthly salary of Pl,500.00 plus an initial living allowance of P50.00 which gradually increased to P320.00. On September 4, 1980, Aban received a letter from the corporation informing him that he would be considered terminated effective October 4, 1980 because of his alleged failure to perform his duties well.
Aban filed a complaint against the petitioner for illegal dismissal. The labor arbiter ruled that Aban was illegally dismissed. This ruling was affirmed by the NLRC on appeal. Hence, this present petition.
Whether or not there was an employer-employee relationship between the petitioner corporation and Aban.
The Supreme Court dismissed the petition for lack of merit, and reinstate Aban to his former or a similar position without loss of seniority rights and to pay three (3) years backwages without qualification or deduction and P5,000.00 in attorney's fees. Should reinstatement not be feasible, the petitioner shall pay the private respondent termination benefits in addition to the above stated three years backpay and P5,000.00 attorney's fees.
A lawyer, like any other professional, may very well be an employee of a private corporation or even of the government. This Court has consistently ruled that the determination of whether or not there is an employer-employee relation depends upon four standards: (1) the manner of selection and engagement of the putative employee; (2) the mode of payment of wages; (3) the presence or absence of a power of dismissal; and (4) the presence or absence of a power to control the putative employee's conduct. Of the four, the right-of-control test has been held to be the decisive factor.
In this case, Aban received basic salary plus living allowance, worked solely for the petitioner, dealt only with legal matters involving the said corporation and its employees and also assisted the Personnel Officer in processing appointment papers of employees which is not act of a lawyer in the exercise of his profession. These facts showed that petitioner has the power to hire and fire the respondent employee and more important, exercised control over Aban by defining the duties and functions of his work which met the four standards in determining whether or not there is an employee-employer relationship.
Acknowledgement: Barbie Pinos