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Star Paper Corporation v Simbol relationship with him to avoid dismissal due to the company

Facts: policy. On November 30, 1999, she met an accident and was
advised by the doctor at the Orthopedic Hospital to recuperate
Petitioners Claim: for several days. When she returned to work, she found out that
Petitioner holds a company policy banning employees from her name was on-hold at the gate. She was later on informed
marrying coworkers, in line with another policy preventing that she was being dismissed for immoral conduct, through a
relatives to be in the same company. In the event of marriage, memorandum. She refused to sign the memorandum because
one must resign. she was on leave for several days and has not been given a
Simbol met and married Alma Dayrit. Theyre attention were chance to explain. She was allowed to explain but was still
called by Ongsitco, company manager. Simbol resigned dismissed. She later on signed a resignation letter in exchange
pursuant to the company policy. of her thirteenth month pay.
Wilfreda Comia met and married Howard Comia, a
coemployee. Ongsitco likewise reminded them of the company Respondents later filed a complaint claiming that their
policy. Wilfreda resigned. dismissal was in violation of the Labor Code.
Estrella met and had an intimate relationship with Luisito
Zuiga, also a co-worker.
Petitioners stated that Zuiga, a married man, got Estrella Held:
pregnant. The company allegedly could have terminated her
services due to immorality but she opted to resign. With the question of the Non-spouse policy and Anti-nepotism
The respondents each signed a Release and Confirmation policy, SC invoked from US State statutes using two theories
Agreement. regarding work discrimination:
disparate treatment
Respondets Claim: The plaintiff must prove that an employment policy is
Simbol and Comia allege that they did not resign voluntarily; discriminatory on its face. No-spouse employment policies
they were compelled to resign in view of an illegal company requiring an employee of a particular sex to either quit,
policy. transfer, or be fired are facially discriminatory.

As to respondent Estrella, she alleges that she had a disparate impact.


relationship with co-worker Zuiga who claimed to have had The complainants must prove that a facially neutral policy has
his marriage separated. She discovered that he was not a disproportionate effect on a particular class.
separated, after getting pregnant, and eventually severed her
US State: rule that unless the employer can prove that the We do not find a reasonable business necessity in the case at
reasonable demands of the business require a distinction based bar.
on marital status and there is no better available or acceptable Petitioners sole contention that "the company did not just want
policy which would better accomplish the business purpose, an to have two (2) or more of its employees related between the
employer may not discriminate against an employee based on third degree by affinity and/or consanguinity" is lame. That the
the identity of the employees spouse. This is known as the second paragraph was meant to give teeth to the first paragraph
bona fide occupational qualification exception. of the questioned rule is evidently not the valid reasonable
business necessity required by the law.
To justify a bona fide occupational qualification, the employer
must prove two factors: (1) that the employment qualification
is reasonably related to the essential operation of the job It is significant to note that in the case at bar, respondents were
involved; and, hired after they were found fit for the job, but were asked to
(2) that there is a factual basis for believing that all or resign when they married a co-employee. Petitioners failed to
substantially all persons meeting the qualification would be show how the marriage of Simbol and Alma Dayrit; Wilfreda
unable to properly perform the duties of the job. Comia and Howard Comia, were detrimental to their respective
works. The policy is premised on the mere fear that employees
The concept of a bona fide occupational qualification is not married to each other will be less efficient. If we uphold the
foreign in our jurisdiction. We employ the standard of questioned rule without valid justification, the employer can
reasonableness of the company policy which is parallel to the create policies based on an unproven presumption of a
bona fide occupational qualification requirement. perceived danger at the expense of an employees right to
security of tenure.
Petitioners contend that their policy will apply only when one
employee marries a coemployee, but they are free to marry
The cases of Duncan and PT&T instruct us that the persons other than co-employees. The questioned policy may
requirement of reasonableness must be clearly established to not facially violate Article 136 of the Labor Code but it creates
uphold the questioned employment policy. The employer has a disproportionate effect and under the disparate impact theory,
the burden to prove the existence of a reasonable business the only way it could pass judicial scrutiny is a showing that it
necessity. The burden was successfully discharged in Duncan is reasonable despite the discriminatory, albeit
but not in PT&T. disproportionate, effect. The failure of petitioners to prove a
legitimate business concern in imposing the questioned policy
cannot prejudice the employees right to be free from arbitrary
discrimination based upon stereotypes of married persons humiliation, she would not have gone back to work at all. Nor
working together in one company. would she have filed a suit for illegal dismissal and pleaded for
reinstatement. We have held that in voluntary resignation, the
employee is compelled by personal reason(s) to dissociate
No statute expressly prohibiting marital discrimination in our himself from employment. It is done with the intention of
jurisdiction cannot benefit the petitioners. The protection given relinquishing an office, accompanied by the act of abandonment.
to labor in our jurisdiction is vast and extensive that we cannot 44 Thus, it is illogical for Estrella to resign and then file a complaint
prudently draw inferences from the legislatures silence that for illegal dismissal. Given the lack of sufficient evidence on the
married persons are not protected under our Constitution and part of petitioners that the resignation was voluntary, Estrellas
declare valid a policy based on a prejudice or stereotype. dismissal is declared illegal.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. SP No. 73477 dated
For failure of petitioners to present undisputed proof of a
August 3, 2004 is AFFIRMED.
reasonable business necessity, SC ruled that the questioned
1avvphil.net

SO ORDERED.
policy is an invalid exercise of management prerogative.
As to respondent Estrella, the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC
based their ruling on the singular fact that her resignation letter
was written in her own handwriting. Both ruled that her
resignation was voluntary and thus valid. The respondent court
failed to categorically rule whether Estrella voluntarily
resigned but ordered that she be reinstated along with Simbol
and Comia.
Estrella claims that she was pressured to submit a resignation
letter because she was in dire need of money. We examined
the records of the case and find Estrellas contention to
be more in accord with the evidence. While findings of fact by
administrative tribunals like the
NLRC are generally given not only respect but, at times, finality,
this rule admits of exceptions,42 as in the case at bar.

The contention of petitioners that Estrella was pressured to resign


because she got impregnated by a married man and she could
not stand being looked upon or talked about as immoral is
incredulous. If she really wanted to avoid embarrassment and