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Air Material Wing Savings vs NLRC GR No.

111870, 30 June 1994 FACTS Private respondent Salas was appointed notarial and legal counsel for petitioner. The petitioner issued an order reminding Salas of the approaching termination of his legal services. This prompted Salas to lodge a complaint against petitioner for separation pay, vacation and sick leave benefits and others. Petitioner moved to dismiss alleging that there was no employer-employee relationship between them. ISSUE: W/N ER-ER exists between petitioner and respondent HELD: Yes. The terms and conditions in the contract show that respondent was an employee of petitioner. His selection as the company counsel was done by the board of directors and the respondent was paid with a monthly retainer’s fee. The petitioner also reserved its power of dismissal by defining the duties of the respondent as its legal counsel such as acting on all legal matters and seeking remedies to effect collection of overdue accounts. As cited in the case of Hydro Resources v. Pagalilauan, “A lawyer, like any other professional (doctors, nurses, dentists, public relations practitioners), may very well be an employee of a private corporation or even of the government. It is not unusual for a big corporation to hire a staff of lawyers as its in-house counsel, pay them regular salaries, rank them and treat them like its other officers and employees.” With regards to Salas’ claim of notarial fees, it is based on his employment as a notarial officer of the petitioner and thus labor arbiters have the original and exclusive jurisdiction. As provided under Art. 3 of 217 of the Labor Code, claims which have reasonable connection with ER-EE relationship are under the jurisdiction of the labor arbiter. In respect to the separate payment of notarial fees to Salas, the contract does not contain any stipulation about it. Absence of such stipulation does not entitle the respondent to collect separate payment of notarial fees