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G.R. No.

- versus -
NELSON PARAS, - Respondents.
June 29, 2004

MMPC is a domestic corporation engaged in the assembly and distribution of Mitsubishi
motor vehicles. CPLU is a legitimate labor organization and the duly certified bargaining agent
of the hourly paid regular rank and file employees of MMPC. Nelson Paras was a member of
CPLU. His wife, Cecille Paras, was the President of the Chrysler Philippines Salaried Employ-
ees Union (CPSU).

Private respondent Nelson Paras first worked with Mitsubishi Philippines as a shuttle bus
driver on March 19, 1976. He resigned on June 16, 1982 because he went to Saudi Arabia and
worked there as a diesel mechanic and heavy machine operator from 1982 to 1993. Upon his
return, Mitsubishi Philippines re-hired him as a welder-fabricator at a tooling shop from No-
vember 1, 1994 to March 3, 1995.

On May 1996, Paras was re-hired again, this time as a probationary manufacturing
trainee at the Plant Engineering Maintenance Department. He had an orientation on May 15,
1996 and afterwhich, with respect to the company’s rules and guidelines, started reporting for
work on May 27, 1996.

Paras was evaluated by his immediate supervisors after six months of working. The su-
pervisors rating Paras’ performance were Lito R. Lacambacal and Wilfredo J. Lopez, as part of
the MMPC’s company policies. Upon this evaluation, Paras garnered an average rating.

Later, respondent Paras was informed by his supervisor, Lacambacal, that he received
an average performance rating but it is a rate which would still qualify him to be regularized. But
as part of the company protocols, the Division Managers namely A.C. Velando, H.T. Victoria and
Dante Ong reviewed the performance evaluation made on Paras. Despite the recommendations
of the supervisors, they unanimously agreed that the performance was unsatisfactory. As a con-
sequence, Paras was not considered for regularization.

Paras received a Notice of Termination on November 26, 1996 which was dated No-
vember 25, 1996. This letter’s intent is to formally relieve him off of his services and position ef-
fective the date since he failed to meet the company’s standards.

(a)whether or not respondent Paras was already a regular employee on November 26, 1996; (b)
whether or not he was legally dismissed

(a) YES, HE IS ALREADY A REGULAR EMPLOYEE. Paras received the letter of termination
on November 26, 1996, the same was served on the 183rd day or after the expiration of the
six-month probationary period. The CA stated that since he was allowed to work beyond the
Benny Salayog
probationary period, Paras became a regular employee. Hence, his dismissal must be
based on the just and authorized causes under the Labor Code, and in accordance with the
two-notice requirement provided for in the implementing rules. The appellate court conclud-
ed that for MMPC’s failure to show that Paras was duly notified of the cause of his dismissal,
the latter was illegally dismissed; hence, his actual reinstatement without loss of seniority
rights and the payment of backwages up to the time of his reinstatement were in order.
(b) NO, HE WAS ILLEGALLY DISMISSED. The basis for which respondent Paras’ services
were terminated was his alleged unsatisfactory rating arising from poor performance. It is a
settled doctrine that the employer has the burden of proving the lawfulness of his employ-
ee’s dismissal. The validity of the charge must be clearly established in a manner consistent
with due process. Under Article 282 of the Labor Code, an unsatisfactory rating can be a just
cause for dismissal only if it amounts to gross and habitual neglect of duties. Gross negli-
gence has been defined to be the want or absence of even slight care or diligence as to
amount to a reckless disregard of the safety of person or property. It evinces a thoughtless
disregard of consequences without exerting any effort to avoid them.[36] A careful perusal
of the records of this case does not show that respondent Paras was grossly negligent in the
performance of his duties.
Benny Salayog