Almirante: Notices in observance of due process

Dominador Almirante

PETITIONER Rowena A. Santos was hired by respondent Integrated Pharmaceutical Inc. as “clinician” tasked with the duty of promoting and selling their products.

On April 6, 2010, she received a memorandum from her immediate supervisor relative to her failure to remit her collections and to return the CareSens POP demonstration unit to the office, at a specified time. On April 19, 2010, respondent’s national sales manager called her to a meeting wherein she was informed that the management discovered that instead of P2.00, she reported P10.00 as the actual amount of her traveling expense.

In the morning of April 21, 2010, respondents attempted to serve upon petitioner a memorandum denominated as memo on padding of expense report. It charged petitioner with attempting to coerce her immediate supervisor to pad her transportation expenses and insubordination for not following instructions. She was required to submit a written explanation within 24 hours in “aid of investigation”.

Petitioner refused to accept said memorandum. Subsequently, she received through registered mail another memorandum likewise dated April 21, 2010 but already denominated as termination of employment. It enumerated five infractions which allegedly constrained respondents to terminate her employment. Was petitioner sufficiently afforded due process before dismissal?

Ruling: No.

In the present case, respondents presented two first written notices (memoranda dated April 6, 2010 and April 21, 2010) charging petitioner with various offenses. Both notices, however, fell short of the requirements of the law. The April 6, 2010 memorandum did not apprise petitioner of an impending termination from employment. It did not require her to submit within a specified period of time her written explanation controverting the charges against her. Said memorandum also did not specify the company rules allegedly violated by the petitioner or the cause of her possible dismissal as provided under Article 282 of the Labor Code. After elaborating on the two acts of insubordination, said memorandum merely reprimanded petitioner and warned her that a commission of the same or similar offense in the future would be visited with stiffer penalty. x x x

With regard to the April 21, 2010 memorandum, respondents claim that they attempted to furnish petitioner with a copy thereof, but that petitioner refused to receive the same. However, respondents’ bare allegation that they attempted to furnish the petitioner with a copy of the April 21, 2010 memorandum is not sufficient. Proof of actual service is required.

Also, the April 21, 2010 memorandum did not afford petitioner ample opportunity to intelligently respond to the accusations hurled against her as she was not given a reasonable period of at least five days to prepare for her defense. Notably, respondents terminated her employment through another memorandum bearing the same date. Moreover, the April 21, 2010 memorandum did not state the specific company rule petitioner violated or the just cause for terminating an employment. Nothing was likewise mentioned about the effect on petitioner’s employment should the charges against her are found to be true.

Lastly, it does not escape our attention that respondents never scheduled a hearing or conference where petitioner could have responded to the charge and presented her evidence. Both the April 6, 2010 and the April 21, 2010 memoranda do not contain a notice setting a particular date for hearing or conference. (Del Castillo, J.; SC 2nd Div., Rowena A. Santos vs. Integrated Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Katheryn Tantiansu, G.R. No. 204620, July 11, 2016).