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Torts and Damages Case Digest: Triple Eight v. NLRC (1998)

G.R. No. 129584  December 3, 1998

Lessons Applicable: Moral Damage for Labor Cases (Torts and Damages)
Laws Applicable: Art. 284 of the Labor Code, Section 8, Rule 1, Book VI of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code

  • August 1992: Osdana was recruited by Triple Eight Integrated Services Inc. for employment as "Food Server" for 36 months with Gulf Catering Company (GCC) based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 36 months.  She was required to pay P11,950 placement fees.  Subsequently, she was asked to sign a contract for a salary of $280 which was approved by POEA.
  • September 16, 1992: Osdana commeced work as staff to College of Public Administration made to wash dishes, cooking pots, and utensils, perform janitorial work and other tasks which were unrelated to her job designation as waitress on a 12-hour shift without overtime pay
  • Because of the long hours and the strenuous nature of her work, she felt numbness and pain in her arms so she was confined at the Ladies Villa during June 18 to August 22, 1993 for which she was not paid her salaries
  • August 22 to October 5, 1993: She worked as a Food Server and Cook at the Hota Bani Tameem Hospital for which she was not compensated
  • October 6 to October 23, 1993: She was confined at the Ladies Villa for no reason and was not paid her salary
  • October 24, 1993: She was assigned at Oleysha University to wash dishes and do other menial tasks at long hours
  • January 1994 and April 23, 1994: She underwent operation because of her pains and was not given work during the period even though her doctor advised that she can do light work.  She did not receive any compensation.
  • April 27, 1994: She was discharged from work without separation pay on the ground of illness
  • labor arbiter: favored Osdana holding Triple Eight liable for US$2,499.00 as salaries for the unexpired portion of the contract, and US$1,076.00 as unpaid salary and salary differential, or its equivalent in Philippine Peso and P50,000 moral damages, P20,000 exemplary damages and 10% of the monetary award as attorney's fee
  • NLRC: affirmed
  • Triple Eight filed a petition for certiorari for awarding without legal basis
ISSUE: W/N Osdana is entitled Moral Damages

HELD: YES.  AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the award to private respondent Osdana should be one thousand two hundred sixty US dollars (US$1,260), or its equivalent in Philippine pesos, as salaries for the unexpired portion of the employment contract, and one thousand seventy six US dollars (US$1,076), or its equivalent in Philippine pesos, representing unpaid salaries for seven (7) months and underpaid salary for one (1) month, plus interest.  Petitioner is likewise ordered to pay private respondent P30,000.00 in moral damages, P10,000.00 in exemplary damages and 10% attorney's fees.

  • In termination cases, the burden of proof rests on the employer to show that the dismissal is for a just cause.
  • Osdana's continued employment despite her illness was not prohibited by law nor was it prejudicial to her health, as well as that of her co-employees. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome" is not a contagious disease and her medical report indicated that she had very good improvement of the symptoms
  • The requirement for a medical certificate under Article 284 of the Labor Code cannot be dispensed with; otherwise, it would sanction the unilateral and arbitrary determination by the employer of the gravity or extent of the employee's illness and thus defeat the public policy on the protection of labor.
  • lex loci contactus (the law of the place where the contract is made) governs in this jurisdiction.  Furthermore, settled is the rule that the courts of the forum will not enforce any foreign claim obnoxious to the forum's public policy
  • employment contract approved by the POEA was only for a period of twelve months, Osdana's actual stint with the foreign principal lasted for one year and seven-and-a-half months. It may be inferred, therefore, that the employer renewed her employment contract for another year. Thus, the award for the unexpired portion of the contract should have been US$1,260 (US$280 x 4 1/2 months) or its equivalent in Philippine pesos, not US$2,499 as adjudged by the labor arbiter and affirmed by the NLRC.
  • As for the award for unpaid salaries and differential amounting to US$ 1,076 representing seven months' unpaid salaries and one month underpaid salary, the same is proper because, as correctly pointed out by Osdana, the "no work, no pay" rule relied upon by petitioner does not apply in this case. In the first place, the fact that she had not worked from June 18 to August 22, 1993 and then from January 24 to April 29, 1994, was due to her illness which was clearly work-related. Second, from August 23 to October 5, 1993, Osdana actually worked as food server and cook for seven days a week at the Hota Bani Tameem Hospital, but was not paid any salary for the said period. Finally, from October 6 to October 23, 1993, she was confined to quarters and was not given any work for no reason at all.
  • award of moral and exemplary damages, the same is likewise proper but should be reduced. Worth reiterating is the rule that 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. Likewise, exemplary damages may be awarded if the dismissal was effected in a wanton, oppressive or malevolent manner. Since the employer is deemed to have acted in bad faith, the award for attorney's fees is likewise upheld
  • it does not appear that petitioner took steps to have its principal included as co-respondent thus, it is the only one liable.  The POEA, and later the labor arbiter, did not acquire jurisdiction over the foreign principal