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Question 3

III.

(Question III, Labor Law, 2018 Bar Exam)

Due to his employer’s dire financial situation, Nicanor was prevailed upon by his employer to voluntarily resign. In exchange, he demanded payment of salary differentials, 13th month pay, and financial assistance, as promised by his employer. Management promised to pay him as soon as it is able to pay off all was attack. retrenched able His to rank-and-file widow, pay Nicanor Norie, employees. the filed amount a money Five promised claim years against to later, him, and the Nicanor company before died management before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), including interest on the amount of the unpaid claim. She also claimed additional damages arguing that the supposed resignation letter was obtained from her spouse through undue pressure and influence. The employer filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that (A) the NLRC did not have jurisdiction over money claims, and (8) the action has prescribed.

(a) Does the NLRC have jurisdiction to award money claims including interest on the amount unpaid? (2.5%)

(b) Assuming that the NLRC has jurisdiction, has the action prescribed? (2.5%)

(c) May Nicanor’s spouse successfully claim additional damages as a result of the alleged undue pressure and influence? (2.5%)

Suggested Answer:

(a) Yes. Answer

Under the Labor Code, and the 2011 NLRC Rules of Procedure, the NLRC through the Labor Arbiter, has the jurisdiction over monetary claims arising out of employer-employee relationship, as well as claims for actual, moral, exemplary and other forms of damages arising from employer-employee relations. Rule

In the case at bar, Norie, as the widow and heir of Nicanor, is seeking to claim money claims, including interest on the amount of the unpaid claim, as well as additional damages. Apply

Thus, the NLRC has jurisdiction to award money claims including interest on the amount unpaid. Conclusion

(b) No. Answer

Under labor law jurisprudence, the principle of promissory estoppel is a recognized exception to the three-year prescriptive period for monetary claims under the Labor Code. Promissory estoppel may arise from the making of a promise, even though without consideration, if it was intended that the promise should be relied upon, as in fact it was relied upon, and if a refusal to enforce it would virtually sanction the perpetration of fraud or would result in other injustice. Rule

In the case at bar, the employer through the Management promised to pay Nicanor his monetary claims as soon as the Company is able to pay off all retrenched rank-and-file employees. The employer is now estopped from denying such liability and such monetary claims is exempt from the coverage of the 3-year prescription. Apply

Thus, the action has not prescribed. Conclusion

(c) No. Answer

Under labor law jurisprudence, the employee has the burden of proof to prove the fact of dismissal first before the burden is shifted to the employer in an illegal dismissal case. Thereafter, after a finding of illegal dismissal, moral damages are recoverable where the dismissal of the employee was attended by bad faith or fraud or constituted an act oppressive to labor, or was done in a manner contrary to morals, good customs or public policy. On the other hand, exemplary damages are proper when the dismissal was effected in a wanton, oppressive or malevolent manner, and public policy requires that these acts must be suppressed and discouraged. Rule

In the case at bar, Nicanor’s spouse has to prove first the fact of dismissal before she can successfully claim additional damages, such as moral and exemplary damages. Unfortunately, such fact is personal and can only be attested to and affirmed by none other than the Nicanor as it is a state of mind. He alone can testify whether he indeed was subjected to undue pressure and influence. Apply

Thus, Nicanor’s wife is unlikely to be successful in claiming additional damages. Conclusion

..

(Notice: The suggested answers simulate those that a bar examinee may provide, and thus specific citations are not provided. Notwithstanding, in the reviewers, the bar exam question is answered under the appropriate topic which discusses the concepts and principles, as well as provide for specific citations. Accordingly, please refer to it on the reviewer or in the Library.)

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