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Sy, Et al vs Court of Appeals (G.R. No.

142293, 27 February 2003)


Facts: Respondent Sahot started working as a truck helper for petitioners' family-owned trucking business and later on became a truck driver of the same family business. Subsequently, petitioners dismissed Sahot from work due to his absences as he was suffering from various ailments. Sahot had filed a week-long leave sometime in May 1994. On May 27th, he was medically examined and treated for EOR, presleyopia, hypertensive retinopathy , HPM, UTI, Osteoarthritis and heart enlargement. On said grounds, Belen Paulino of the SBT Trucking Service management told him to file a formal request for extension of his leave. At the end of his week-long absence, Sahot applied for extension of his leave for the whole month of June, 1994. It was at this time when petitioners allegedly threatened to terminate his employment should he refuse to go back to work. Sahot filed with the NLRC NCR Arbitration Branch, a complaint for illegal dismissal. The NLRC, through the Labor Arbiter, ruled that there was no illegal dismissal in Sahot's case. On appeal, the NLRC declared that Sahot was an employee who did not abandon his job but his employment was terminated on account of his illness. Petitioners assailed the decision of the NLRC before the Court of Appeals (CA) which affirmed the judgment of the NLRC. Hence, the instant petition. Issue: W/N there exist an employer/employee relationship YES W/N there was illegal dismissal YES The employer is required to furnish an employee with two written notices before the latter is dismissed: (1) the notice to apprise the employee of the particular acts or omission for which his dismissal is sought, which is equivalent of a charge; and Sec. 8. Disease as a ground for dismissal. Where the employee suffers from a disease and his continued employment is prohibited by law or prejudicial to his health or to the health of his co-employees, the employer shall not terminate his employment unless there is a certification by competent public health authority that the disease is of such nature or at such a stage that it cannot be cured within a period of six (6) months even with proper medical treatment. If the disease or ailment can be cured within the period, the employer shall not terminate the employee but shall ask the employee to take a leave. The employer shall reinstate such employee to his former position immediately upon the restoration of his normal health. 2.) The Court further ruled that in termination cases, the burden is upon the employer to show by substantial evidence that the termination was for lawful cause, and validly made. 1.) Supreme Court ruled that Sahot actually engaged in work as an employee. During the entire course of his employment, he did not have the freedom to determine where he would go, what he would do, and how he would do it. He merely followed instructions of petitioners and was content to do so, as long as he was paid his wages. Private respondent had worked as a truck helper and driver of petitioners not for his own pleasure but under the latter's control.

Art. 284. Disease as a ground for termination. An employer may terminate the services of an employee who has been found to be suffering from any disease and whose continued employment is prohibited by law or prejudicial to his health as well as the health of his co-employees

Hel d/Ratio

(2) the notice informing the employee of his dismissal, to be issued after the employee has been given reasonable opportunity to answer and to be heard on his defense. These, the petitioners failed to do, even only for record purposes. Both the substantive and procedural aspects of due process were violated. Therefore, Sahot's dismissal was tainted with invalidity. Petition denied and the Court of Appeals' decision was affirmed.