Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NYK International v. NLRC

Facts:  On February 8, 1995, herein petitioner NYK hired respondent Virginia Publico as a sewer. Under the terms and conditions of her employment, Publico was paid on a piece-rate basis, but required to work from 8:00 A.M. to 12:00 midnight. On the average, she earned P185.00 daily.

At about 10:00 P.M. of May 7, 1997, Publico requested that she be allowed to leave the work place early, as she was not feeling well due to a bout of influenza. Permission was refused but nonetheless, Publico went home.

The following day, Publico called up her employer and notified management that she was still recovering from her ailment.

On May 9, 1997, Publico reported for work. To her mortification and surprise, however, the security guard prevented her from entering the NYK premises, allegedly on management’s order. She begged to be allowed inside, but the guard remained adamant. It was only when Publico declared that she would just complete the unfinished work she had left on May 7 that the guard let her in.

Once inside the factory, Publico requested to see the owner, one Stephen Ng. Her request was declined. She was instead asked to come back the following day.

On May 10, 1997, Publico returned to NYK as instructed. After waiting for three and half (3½) hours, she was finally able to see Stephen Ng. When she inquired why she was barred from reporting for work, Mr. Ng told her she was dismissed due to her refusal to render overtime service.

Aggrieved, private respondent filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against petitioner corporation and its manager, petitioner Cathy Ng.

Whether or not Cathy Ng may be held solidarily liable with NYK? 
Yes. Anent petitioners’ assertion that they cannot be solidarily liable in this case as there was no malice or bad faith on their part has no leg to stand on. What the Court finds apropos is our disquisition in A.C. Ransom Labor Union-CCLU v. NLRC, which held that since a corporation is an artificial person, it must have an officer who can be presumed to be the employer, being the “person acting in the interest of the employer.” In other words the corporation, in the technical sense only, is the employer. In a subsequent case, we ordered the corporate officers of the employer corporation to pay jointly and solidarily the private respondents’ monetary award. More recently, a corporation and its president were directed by this Court to jointly and severally reinstate the illegally dismissed employees to their former positions and to pay the monetary awards.

In this case Cathy Ng, admittedly, is the manager of NYK. Conformably with our ruling in A. C. Ransom, she falls within the meaning of an “employer” as contemplated by the Labor Code, who may be held jointly and severally liable for the obligations of the corporation to its dismissed employees. Pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence, Cathy Ng, in her capacity as manager and responsible officer of NYK, cannot be exonerated from her joint and several liability in the payment of monetary award to private respondent.

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