ABS-CBN told to reinstate worker in 2010 case

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE Supreme Court (SC) ruled that ABS-CBN Corp. (ABS-CBN) must reinstate without back pay a production assistant who claimed she was forced to resign in 2010.

The ruling reversed a Court of Appeals (CA) decision, which itself had overturned a resolution by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

In an 18-page decision on March 29 and made public on Tuesday, the SC First Division said ABS-CBN should allow Clara L. Magno to return to her former position since she did not officially resign from the company.

The High Court noted she was not entitled to full back wages since she failed to prove her illegal dismissal.

“However, upon closer scrutiny, it is clear that the factual basis of Magno’s claim of constructive dismissal was utterly unsubstantiated,” according to the ruling penned by Associate Justice Samuel H. Gaerlan.  “She failed to prove that she was forced to resign from the company.”

Constructive dismissal is when an employee is compelled by an employer to resign due to a specific incident, said the court citing 2018 jurisprudence.

“Although she claimed that she was forced to file this resignation letter, it is noted that the tenor of her resignation letter was amiable and cordial,” the SC added.

ABS-CBN argued that Ms. Magno was not a regular employee and she failed to prove that she was constructively dismissed.

The case stemmed from an illegal dismissal complaint filed by the production assistant after she was allegedly forced to resign by upper management for having dinner with a TV host who had left ABS-CBN for another network.

Ms. Magno said that ABS-CBN stopped giving her any work assignments and canceled her roles in active projects.

The labor arbiter had denied the complaint as it said she was not a regular employee of the media firm and she failed to prove her forced resignation.

The CA overturned the decision as it said the production assistant was a regular employee and was entitled to full back pay.

“Although Magno was not constructively dismissed, she cannot be considered to have abandoned or forfeited her employment with ABS-CBN,” the court said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez