(Question A.8, Labor Law, 2019 Bar Exam)
Ms. T was caught in the act of stealing the company property of her employer. When Ms. T admitted to the commission of the said act to her manager, the latter advised her to just tender her resignation; otherwise, she would face an investigation which would likely lead to the termination of her employment and the filing of criminal charges in court.
Acting on her manager’s advice, Ms. T submitted a letter of resignation. Later on, Ms. T filed a case for constructive dismissal against her employer. While Ms. T conceded that her manager spoke to her in a calm and unforceful manner, she claimed that her resignation was not completely voluntary because she was told that should she not resign, she could be terminated from work for just cause and worse criminal charges could be file against her.
(a) What is the difference between resignation and constructive dismissal? (2%)
(b) Will Ms. T’s claim for constructive dismissal prosper? Explain. (3%)
(a) Resignation is the voluntary act of an employee who is in a situation where one believes that personal reasons cannot be sacrificed in favor of the exigency of the service, and one has no other choice but to dissociate oneself from employment.
On the other hand, constructive dismissal is the quitting or cessation of work because continued employment is rendered impossible, unreasonable or unlikely; when there is a demotion in rank or a diminution of pay and other benefits. It exists if an act of clear discrimination, insensibility, or disdain by an employer becomes so unbearable on the part of the employee that it could foreclose any choice by him except to forego his continued employment. There is involuntary resignation due to the harsh, hostile, and unfavorable conditions set by the employer. The test of constructive dismissal is whether a reasonable person in the employee’s position would have felt compelled to give up his employment/position under the circumstances.
(b) No. Answer
Under labor law jurisprudence, graceful exit is a form of voluntary resignation, and not a constructive dismissal. Graceful exit is perfectly within the discretion of the employer; as it is not uncommon that an employee is permitted to resign to avoid the humiliation and embarrassment of being terminated for just cause after the exposure of her malfeasance. It is settled that there is nothing reprehensible or illegal when the employer grants the employee a chance to resign and save face rather than smear the latter’s employment record. Rule
In the case at bar, Ms. T was caught in the act of stealing company property. This is a serious misconduct which is a just cause for her dismissal. However, the employer extended to her the option of graceful exit to save face rather than smear Ms. T’s employment record, as well as avoid criminal charges. To avoid these, she voluntarily resigned. Apply
Thus, Ms. T’s claim for constructive dismissal will not prosper. Conclusion
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