PFIZER, INC. AND/OR REY GERARDO BACARRO, AND/OR FERDINANDCORTES, AND/OR ALFRED MAGALLON, AND/OR ARISTOTLE ARCE vs.

GERALDINE VELASCO G.R. No. 177467, March 9, 2011 FACTS: Private respondent Geraldine L. Velasco was employed with PFIZER, INC. as Professional Health Care Representative since 1992.Sometime in April 2003, Velasco had a medical work up for her highriskpregnancy and was subsequently advised bed rest which resulted in herextending her leave of absence. While Velasco was still on leave, PFIZER through its Area Sales Manager,herein petitioner Ferdinand Cortez, personally served Velasco a "Show-causeNotice". Aside from mentioning about an investigation on her possibleviolations of company work rules regarding "unauthorized deals and/ordiscounts in money or samples and unauthorized withdrawal and/or pull-outof stocks" and instructing her to submit her explanation on the matter within48 hours from receipt of the same, the notice also advised her that she wasbeing placed under "preventive suspension" for 30 days and consequentlyordered to surrender the following "accountabilities;" 1) Company Car, 2)Samples and Promats, 3)CRF/ER/VEHICLE/SOA/POSAP/MPOA and otherrelated Company Forms, 4) Cash Card, 5) Caltex Card, and 6) MPOA/TPOARevolving Travel Fund. The following day, petitioner Cortez together with oneEfren Dariano retrieved the above-mentioned "accountabilities" fromVelasco’s residence. In response, Velasco sent a letter addressed to Cortez denying the charges.Velasco claimed that the transaction with Mercury Drug, Magsaysay Branchwas merely to accommodate two undisclosed patients of a certain Dr. RenatoManalo. In support thereto, Velasco attached the Doctor’s letter and theaffidavit of the latter’s secretary.Later on, Velasco received a "Second Show-cause Notice" informing her of additional developments in their investigation. According to the notice, acertain CarlitoJomen executed an affidavit pointing to Velasco as the onewho transacted with a printing shop to print PFIZER discount coupons. Jomenalso presented text messages originating from Velasco’s company issued cell phone referring to the printing of the said coupons. Again, Velasco wasgiven 48 hours to submit her written explanation on the matter. Velasco senta letter to PFIZER asking for additional time to answer the second Show-cause Notice. That same day, Velasco filed a complaint for illegal suspension with moneyclaims before the Regional Arbitration Branch. The following day,, PFIZERsent her a letter inviting her to a disciplinary hearing. Velasco received itunder protest and informed PFIZER via the receiving copy of the said letterthat she had lodged a complaint against the latter and that the issues thatmay be raised in the hearing "can be tackled during the hearing of her case" or at the preliminary conference. She likewise opted to withhold answeringthe Second Show-cause Notice. Thereafter, Velasco received a "Third Show-cause Notice," together with copies of the affidavits of two Branch Managersof Mercury Drug, asking her for her comment within 48 hours. Finally, PFIZERinformed Velasco of its "Management Decision" terminating her employment. The Labor Arbiter rendered its decision declaring the dismissal of Velascoillegal, ordering her reinstatement with back wages and further awardingmoral and exemplary

. 2005. the NLRCaffirmed the same but deleted the award of moral and exemplary damages. including her relocation benefits. ISSUE: Whether or not the Court of Appeals committed a serious butreversible error when it ordered Pfizer to pay Velasco wages from the date of the Labor Arbiter’s decision ordering her reinstatement until the time whenthe Court of Appeals rendered its decision declaring Velasco’s dismissal valid HELD: NO. The circumstance that respondent opted for separation pay inlieu of reinstatement as manifested in her counsel’s Letter dated July 18. respondent was entitled to the wages paid to her under theaforementioned writ of execution. ratherunder the factual milieu of this case.2005. it had shown a clear intent to reinstaterespondent to her former position under the same terms and conditions norto a substantially equivalent position. To begin with. On appeal.2005 is of no moment. Reinstatement presupposes that the previous position from whichone had been removed still exists. Even if we assume that the job awaiting respondent in the new locationis of the same designation and pay category as what she had before. it cannot be said thatwith PFIZER’s June 27. It is established in jurisprudence that reinstatement means restoration to astate or condition from which one had been removed or separated. wherein the CA affirmed the validity of respondent’sdismissal from employment but modified its earlier ruling by directing PFIZERto pay respondent her wages from the date of the Labor Arbiter’s Decision upto the Court of Appeals Decision. As the Court held that anaward or order of reinstatement is immediately self-executory without theneed for the issuance of a writ of execution in accordance with the thirdparagraph of Article 223 of the Labor Code. 2005 Letter. PFIZER appealed to the CA to annul and set aside theaforementioned NLRC issuances. To reiterate. in belated fulfilment of the LaborArbiter’s reinstatement order. according to the law. an employee entitled toreinstatement "shall either be admitted back to work under the same termsand conditions prevailing prior to his dismissal or separation or. merely reinstated in the payroll. PFIZER did notimmediately admit respondent back to work which.Undaunted. under Article 223 of the Labor Code. at the optionof the employer. Theperson reinstated assumes the position he had occupied prior to hisdismissal.should have been done as soon as an order or award of reinstatement ishanded down by the Labor Arbiter without need for the issuance of a writ of execution. Thus. it isplain from the text of PFIZER’s June 27. 2005 letter that such reinstatementwas not "under the same terms and conditions" as her previous employment.damages with attorney’s fees. 2006 and would not bar respondent from beingpaid her wages from May 6. PFIZER’s payment of the samecan only be deemed partial compliance/execution of the Court of AppealsResolution dated October 23. At most.Applying the foregoing principle to the case before us. 2005 to November 23. The CA upheld the validity of respondent’sdismissal from employment. We do not see respondent’s letter as taking away theoption from management to effect actual or payroll reinstatement but. the return-to-work orderPFIZER sent respondent is silent with regard to the position or the exactnature of employment that it wanted respondent to take up as of July 1. or that there is an unfilled position whichis substantially equivalent or of similar nature as the one previously occupiedby the employee. considering that PFIZER ordered respondent to report to its main office inMakati City while knowing fully well that respondent’s previous job had herstationed in Baguio City (respondent’s place of residence) and it was stillnecessary for respondent to be briefed regarding her work assignments andresponsibilities. Respondent then filed a Motion forReconsideration.

required her to report for work underconditions prejudicial to her. is to open the doors to potential employerabuse. and worse. the optionof the employer to effect actual or payroll reinstatement must be exercised ingood faith. respondent was not obliged to comply with PFIZER’sambivalent returnto-work order. In sum. an employer may circumvent the immediatelyenforceable reinstatement order of the Labor Arbiter by crafting return-to-work directives that are ambiguous or meant to be rejected by the employeeand then disclaim liability for back wages due to non-reinstatement bycapitalizing on the employee’s purported refusal to work. Foreseeably. To uphold PFIZER’s view that it wasrespondent who unjustifiably refused to work when PFIZER did not reinstateher to her former position.where the employer failed tocategorically reinstate the employee to her former or equivalent positionunder the same terms." .