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Aug 5, 2008

G.R. No. 118978, May 23, 1997


This is a case for illegal dismissal filed by Grace de Guzman against PT&T.

Grace de Guzman is a probationary employee of PT&T. In her job application, she represented that she was single although she was married. When management found out, she was made to explain. However, her explanation was found unsatisfactory so she was subsequently dismissed from work.

Grace thus filed a case for illegal dismissal against PT&T with RAB. According to the Labor Arbiter, Grace, who had already gained the status of regular employee, was illegally dismissed by PT&T. Moreover, he ruled that Grace was apparently discriminated against on account of her having contracted marriage in violation of company rules.

On appeal to the NLRC, the decision of the Labor Arbiter was upheld. The Motion for Reconsideration was likewise rebuffed, hence, this special civil action.

Petitioner argued that the dismissal was not because Grace was married but because of her concealment of the fact that she was married. Such concealment amounted to dishonesty, which was why she was dismissed from work.

  • Whether or not the company policy of not accepting married women for employment was discriminatory
  • Whether or not Grace’s act of concealment amounted to dishonesty, leading to loss of confidence
  • Whether or not Grace was illegally dismissed


There was discrimination

Article 136 of the Labor Code explicitly prohibits discrimination merely by reason of the marriage of a female employee.

Petitioner’s policy of not accepting or considering as disqualified from work any woman worker who contracts marriage runs afoul of the test of, and the right against, discrimination, afforded all women workers by our labor laws and by no less than the Constitution. Contrary to petitioner’s assertion that it dismissed private respondent from employment on account of her dishonesty, the record discloses clearly that her ties with the company were dissolved principally because of the company’s policy that married women are not qualified for employment in PT&T, and not merely because of her supposed acts of dishonesty.

Concealment did not amount to willful dishonesty

Verily, private respondent’s act of concealing the true nature of her status from PT&T could not be properly characterized as willful or in bad faith as she was moved to act the way she did mainly because she wanted to retain a permanent job in a stable company. In other words, she was practically forced by that very same illegal company policy into misrepresenting her civil status for fear of being disqualified from work. While loss of confidence is a just cause for termination of employment, it should not be simulated. It must rest on an actual breach of duty committed by the employee and not on the employer’s caprices. Furthermore, it should never be used as a subterfuge for causes which are improper, illegal, or unjustified.

However, SC nevertheless ruled that Grace did commit an act of dishonesty, which should be sanctioned and therefore agreed with the NLRC’s decision that the dishonesty warranted temporary suspension of Grace from work.

Grace attained regular status as an employee

Private respondent, it must be observed, had gained regular status at the time of her dismissal. When she was served her walking papers on Jan. 29, 1992, she was about to complete the probationary period of 150 days as she was contracted as a probationary employee on September 2, 1991. That her dismissal would be effected just when her probationary period was winding down clearly raises the plausible conclusion that it was done in order to prevent her from earning security of tenure.

There was illegal dismissal

As an employee who had therefore gained regular status, and as she had been dismissed without just cause, she is entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to full back wages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits or their monetary equivalent.

On Stipulation against Marriage

In the final reckoning, the danger of PT&T’s policy against marriage is that it strikes at the very essence, ideals and purpose of marriage as an inviolable social institution and, ultimately, of the family as the foundation of the nation.

Petition dismissed.


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