Thursday, March 03, 2016

University of Immaculate Conception vs National Labor and Relations Commission (NLRC) [GR No. 181146, January 26, 2011]

FACTS:Teodora Axalan is a regular faculty member in the University of the Immaculate Conception holding the position of Associate Professor II. Aside from being a regular faculty member, Axalan is the elected President of the Employees' Union from 18 November to 22 November 2002. Axalan attended a seminar in Quezon City on website development. Axalan then received a memorandum from Dean Maria Rosa Celestial asking her to explain in writing why she should not be dismissed for having been absent without official leave. Axalan claimed that she held online classes while attending the seminar. She explained that she was under the impression that faculty members would not be marked absent even if they were not physically present in the classroom as long as they conducted online classes. From 28 January to 3 February 2003, Axalan attended a second seminar in Baguio City on advanced paralegal training on which dates Axalan was absent. An Ad Hoc Grievance Committee was created, and upon its recommendation Axalan was suspended for a year for her AWOL charges. On 1 December 2003, Axalan filed a complaint against the University for illegal suspension and constructive dismissal in the Labor Arbiter. The University moved to dismiss on the ground that the Labor Arbiter had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint. The university maintained that jurisdiction lay in the voluntary arbitrator.

ISSUE: Whether or not the labor arbiter has jurisdiction in the case at bar

RULING: No. Although Article 217 of the Labor Code states that unfair labor practices and termination disputes fall within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiter. Article 262 of the same Code provides the exception. For the exception to apply, there must be an agreement between the parties clearly conferring jurisdiction to the voluntary arbitrator. Such agreement may be stipulated in a collective bargaining agreement. However, in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement, it is enough that there is evidence on record showing that the parties have agreed to resort to voluntary arbitration. As can be gleaned from the transcript of stenographic notes of the administrative hearing held on 20 February 2003, the parties in this case clearly agreed to resort to voluntary arbitration.

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