G.R. No. 187122 Negros Slashers, Inc., et al. v. Teng February 22, 2012

Facts:

Respondent Alvin Teng is a professional basketball player who started his career as such in the Philippine Basketball Association and then later on played in the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA).

Some time in one of his games, particularly Game Number 4 of the MBA Championship Round for the year 2000 season, Teng had a below-par playing performance.  Because of this, the coaching staff decided to pull him out of the game.  Teng then sat on the bench, untied his shoelaces and donned his practice jersey.  On the following game, Game Number 5 of the Championship Round, Teng called-in sick and did not play.

On March 16, 2001, because of what happened, the management of Negros Slashers came up with a decision, and through its General Manager, petitioner Rodolfo Alvarez, wrote Teng informing him of his termination from the team.

Issue:

Whether or not Teng’s dismissal from the Negros Slashers Team was unjustified and too harsh considering his misconduct.

Ruling:

Yes. As ruled in Sagales v. Rustan’s Commercial Corporation, while the employer has the inherent right to discipline, including that of dismissing its employees, this prerogative is subject to the regulation by the State in the exercise of its police power.

In this regard, it is a hornbook doctrine that infractions committed by an employee should merit only the corresponding penalty demanded by the circumstance. The penalty must be commensurate with the act, conduct or omission imputed to the employee and must be imposed in connection with the disciplinary authority of the employer.

In the case at bar, the penalty handed out by the petitioners was the ultimate penalty of dismissal.  There was no warning or admonition for respondent’s violation of team rules, only outright termination of his services for an act which could have been punished appropriately with a severe reprimand or suspension.

G.R. No. 49549 Chua-Qua v. Clave and Tay Tung High School August 30, 1990

Facts:

Herein petitioner was a teacher (30 years of age) who fell in love with her student (16 years old), and whom she later married. After their marriage, the teacher’s services were terminated by the school on claim of “abusive and unethical conduct unbecoming of a dignified school teacher” and whose “continued employment is inimical to the best interest, and would downgrade the high moral values, of the school.” The allegation of immoral conduct on the part of the teacher was based on supposedly several circumstances whereby the teacher stayed alone with the student in the classroom after school hours when everybody had gone home, with one door allegedly locked and the other slightly open. These instances, it would seem, arose in pursuance of the school’s policy of extending remedial instructions to the students.

Issue:

Whether or not petitioner committed serious misconduct or breached the trust reposed on her by her employer or committed any of the other grounds enumerated in Article 283 (Now Article 282) of the Labor Code which will justify the termination of her employment.

Ruling:

No. There was no substantial evidence of the imputed immoral acts, hence “it follows that the alleged violation of the Code of Ethics governing school teachers would have no basis. Private respondent utterly failed to show that petitioner took advantage of her position to court her student. If the two eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know. But, definitely, yielding to this gentle and universal emotion is not to be so casually equated with immorality. The deviation of the circumstances of their marriage from the usual societal pattern cannot be considered as a defiance of contemporary social mores.”

This case has been very controversial as it involved an unconventional love story between a teacher and her student (who was a minor). The Supreme Court, in deciding this case, actually sided with herein petitioner. But as observed, it was not because of love that the court took the petitioner’s side. It was because there was no substantial evidence of the teacher’s alleged abusive and unethical conduct. If at all, the Court’s quoting of the famous “the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know” is only an expression of its belief that to love unconventionally is not necessarily immoral.