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.