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Macy N Marcelo

Legal Research

JD 1

G.R. No. 204944-45

December 3, 2014

FUJI TELEVISION NETWORK, INC., Petitioner,


vs.
ARLENE S. ESPIRITU, Respondent.
In 2005, Arlene S. Espiritu ("Arlene") was engaged by Fuji Television Network,
Inc. ("Fuji") as a news correspondent/producer "tasked to report Philippine news to Fuji
through its Manila Bureau field office." Arlenes employment contract initially provided
for a term of one (1) year but was successively renewed on a yearly basis with salary
adjustment upon every renewal. Sometime in January 2009, Arlene was diagnosed with
lung cancer. She informed Fuji about her condition. In turn, the Chief of News Agency of
Fuji, Yoshiki Aoki, informed Arlene "that the company will have a problem renewing her
contract" since it would be difficult for her to perform her job. She "insisted that she was
still fit to work as certified by her attending physician." 1
After several verbal and written communications, Arlene and Fuji signed a nonrenewal contract on May 5, 2009 where it was stipulated that her contract would no
longer be renewed after its expiration on May 31, 2009. The contract also provided that
the parties release each other from liabilities and responsibilities under the employment
contract.1
In consideration of the non-renewal contract, Arlene "acknowledged receipt of the
total amount of US$18,050.00 representing her monthly salary from March 2009 to May
2009, year-end bonus, mid-year bonus, and separation pay." 1 However, Arlene affixed
her signature on the nonrenewal contract with the initials "U.P." for "under protest." 1
On May 6, 2009, the day after Arlene signed the non-renewal contract, she filed a
complaint for illegal dismissal and attorneys fees with the National Capital Region
Arbitration Branch of the National Labor Relations Commission. She alleged that she
was forced to sign the nonrenewal contract when Fuji came to know of her illness and
that Fuji withheld her salaries and other benefits for March and April 2009 when she
refused to sign.1
Arlene claimed that she was left with no other recourse but to sign the nonrenewal contract, and it was only upon signing that she was given her salaries and
bonuses, in addition to separation pay equivalent to four (4) years.
The NLRC ruled in favour of the respondent. Said decision was affirmed by the
Court of Appeals, hence this petition.
ISSUE :

Macy N Marcelo

Legal Research

JD 1

Whether or not the respondent, Arlene Espiritu, is a regular employee of Fuji and
therefore entitled to security of tenure.
Held:
Yes.
Ratio decidendi
The employment status of a person is defined and prescribed by law and not by
what the parties say it should be. Equally important to consider is that a contract of
employment is impressed with public interest such that labor contracts must yield to the
common good. Thus, provisions of applicable statutes are deemed written into the
contract, and the parties are not at liberty to insulate themselves and their relationships
from the impact of labor laws and regulations by simply contracting with each other
Arlene was a regular employee with a fixed-term contract. Her contract indicating
a fixed term did not automatically mean that she could never be a regular employee. An
employee can be a regular employee with a fixed-term contract. The law does not
preclude the possibility that a regular employee may opt to have a fixed-term contract
for valid reasons.
Further, Fujis argument that Arlene was an independent contractor under a fixedterm contract is contradictory. Employees under fixed-term contracts cannot be
independent contractors because in fixed-term contracts, an employer-employee
relationship exists.
The same ruling was also applied in the following cases:
Date promulgated
September 26, 2006
(G.R. No. 164156 )

May 9, 2003
(G. R. No. 148492)

Case (Title)
ABS CBN vs Nazareno

Magsalin vs National Organization of Working


Men

February 5, 1990
(G.R. No. L-48494)
April 26, 1989
(G.R. No. 57822)
March 31, 1977
(G.R. No. L-44360)

Brent vs Zamora
Escudero vs. Office of the President

Biboso v. Victorias Milling Company, Inc.

Macy N Marcelo

Legal Research

JD 1
June 30, 1956
(G.R. No. L-8715)

Primary Sources:

Labor Code
The 1987 Constitution
Supreme Court cases

Philippine Air Lines, Inc. v. Philippine Air Lines


Employees Association