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596 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company vs. NLRC
*
G.R. No. 118978. May 23, 1997.
**
PHILIPPINE TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE COMPANY,
petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION
and GRACE DE GUZMAN, respondents.

Labor Law; Dismissals; Petitioner’s policy of not accepting or


considering as disqualified from work any woman worker who contracts
marriage runs afoul of the test of, and the right against discrimination
afforded all women workers by our labor laws and by no less than the
Constitution.—In the case at bar, petitioner’s policy of not accepting or
considering as disqualified from work any woman worker who contracts
marriage runs afoul of the test of, and the right against, discrimination,
afforded all women workers by our labor laws and by no less than the
Constitution. Contrary to peti-tioner’s as sertion that it dismissed private
respondent from employment on account of her dishonesty, the record
discloses clearly that her ties with the company were dissolved principally
because of the company’s policy that married women are not qualified for
employment in PT&T, and not merely because of her supposed acts of
dishonesty.
Same; Same; While loss of confidence is a just cause for termination of
employment, it should not be simulated.—Verily, private respondent’s act of
concealing the true nature of her status from PT&T could not be properly
characterized as willful or in bad faith as s he was m oved to act the way she
did mainly because she wanted to retain a permanent job in a stable
company. In other words, she was practically forced by that very same
illegal company policy into misrepresenting her civil status for fear of being
disqualified from work. While loss of confidence is a just cause for
termination of employment, it should not be simulated. It must rest on an
actual breach of duty committed by the employee and not on the employer’s
caprices. Furthermore, it should never be used as a subterfuge for causes
which are improper, illegal, or unjustified.

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* SECOND DIVISION.

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** The phrase “herein represented by DELIA M. OFI CIAL,” added hereto in the title of
this case as stated in the petition, has been deleted for being unnecessary and violative of the
rules on pleadings, and is commented upon in the text of this opinion.

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Same; Same; The primary standard of determining regular employment


is the reasonable connection between the activity performed by the
employee in relation to the business or trade of the employer.—Private
respondent, it mus t be observed, had gained regular status at the time of her
dismissal. When she was served her walking papers on January 29, 1992,
she was about to complete the probationary period of 150 days as she was
contracted as a probationary employee on September 2, 1991. That her
dismissal would be effected just when her probationary period was winding
down clearly raises the plausible conclusion that it was done in order to
prevent her from earning security of tenure. On the other hand, her earlier
stints with the company as reliever were undoubtedly those of a regular
employee, even if the same were for fixed periods, as she performed
activities which were essential or necessary in the usual trade and business
of PT&T. The primary standard of determining regular employment is the
reasonable connection between the activity performed by the employee in
relation to the busines s or trade of the employer.
Same; Same; Policy of Philippine Air Lines requiring that prospective
flight attendants must be single and that they will be automatically
separated from the service once they marry declared void in Zialcita, et al.
v. Philippine Air Lines.—It would be worthwhile to reflect upon and adopt
here the rationalization in Zialcita, et al. vs. Philippine Air Lines, a decision
that emanated from the Office of the President. There, a policy of Philippine
Air Lines requiring that prospective flight attendants must be single and that
they will be automatically s eparated from the service once they marry was
declared void, it being violative of the clear mandate in Article 136 of the
Labor Code with regard to discrimination against married women.
Same; Same; While it is true that the parties to a contract may
establish any agreements, terms and conditions that they may deem
convenient, the same should not be contrary to law, morals, good customs,
public order or public policy.—Petitioner’s policy is not only in derogation
of the provisions of Article 136 of the Labor Code on the right of a woman
to be free from any kind of stipulation against marriage in connection with
her employment, but it likewise assaults good morals and public policy,
tending as it does to deprive a woman of the freedom to choose her status, a
privilege that by all accounts inheres in the individual as an intangible and

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inalienable right. Hence, while it is true that the parties to a contract may
estab-

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Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company vs. NLRC

lish any agreements, terms, and conditions that they may deem convenient,
the same should not be contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order,
or public policy. Carried to its logical consequences, it may even be said that
petitioner’s policy against legitimate marital bonds would encourage illicit
or common-law relations and subvert the sacrament of marriage.
Same; Same; The relations between capital and labor are not merely
contractual, impressed as they are with so much public interest that the
same should yield to the comm on good.—Parenthetically, the Civil Code
provisions on the contract of labor state that the relations between the
parties, that is, of capital and labor, are not merely contractual, impressed as
they are with so much public interest that the same should yield to the
common good. It goes on to intone that neither capital nor labor should visit
acts of oppression against the other, nor impair the interest or convenience
of the public. In the final reckoning, the danger of just such a policy against
marriage followed by petitioner PT&T is that it strikes at the very essence,
ideals and purpose of marriage as an inviolable social institution and,
ultimately, of the family as the foundation of the nation. That it must be
effectively interdicted here in all its indirect, disguised or dissembled forms
as discriminatory conduct derogatory of the laws of the land is not only in
order but imperatively required.

SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Certiorari.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.


D.P. Mercado & Associates for petitioner.
A.C. Estrada & Partners for private respondent.

REGALADO, J.:

Seeking relief through the extraordinary writ of certiorari, petitioner


Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company, (hereafter, PT&T)
invokes the alleged concealment of civil status and defalcation of
company funds as grounds to terminate the services of an employee.
That employee, herein private respondent G race de Guzman,
contrarily argues that what really motivated PT&T to terminate her
services was her having contracted marriage during her
employment,

599
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which is prohibited by petitioner in its company policies. She thus


claims that she was discriminated against in gross violation of law,
such a proscription by an employer being outlawed by Article 136 of
the Labor Code.
Grace de Guzman was initially hired by petitioner as a reliever,
specifically as a “Supernumerary Project Worker,” for a fixed period
from November 21, 1990 until1 April 20, 1991 vice one C.F. Tenorio
who went on maternity leave. Under the Reliever Agreement which
she signed with petitioner company, her employment was to be
immediately terminated upon expiration of the agreed period.
Thereafter, from June 10, 1991 to July 1, 1991, and from July 19,
1991 to August 8, 1991, private respondent’s services as reliever
were again engaged by petitioner, this time in replacement 2of one
Erlinda F. Dizon who went on leave during both periods. After
August 8, 1991, and pursuant to their Reliever Agreement, her
services were terminated.
On September 2, 1991, private respondent was once more asked
to join petitioner company as a probationary employee, the
probationary period to cover 150 days. In the job application form
that was furnished her to be filled up for the purpose, she indicated
in the portion for civil status therein that she was single although she
had contracted
3
marriage a few months earlier, that is, on May 26,
1991.
It now appears that private respondent had made the same
representation in the two successive reliever agreements which she
signed on June 10, 1991 and July 8, 1991. When petitioner
supposedly learned about the same later, its branch supervisor in
Baguio City, Delia M. Oficial, sent to private respondent a
memorandum dated January 15, 1992 requiring her to explain the
discrepancy. In that memorandum, she was reminded about the4
company’s policy of not accepting married women for employment.

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1 Rollo, 42; Annex D.


2 Ibid., 44-45; Annexes F and G.
3 Ibid., 46-48; Annexes H and I.
4 Ibid., 49; Annex J.

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In her reply letter dated January 17, 1992, private respondent stated
that she was not aware of PT&T’s policy regarding married women
at the time, and 5that all along she had not deliberately hidden her
true civil status. Petitioner nonetheless remained unconvinced by
her explanations. Private respondent 6
was dismissed from the
company effective January 29, 1992, which she readily contested by
initiating a complaint for illegal dismissal, coupled w ith a claim for
non-payment of cost of living allowances (COLA), before the
Regional Arbitration Branch of the National Labor Relations Comm
ission in Baguio City.
At the preliminary conference conducted in connection therewith,
private respondent volunteered the information, and this was
incorporated in the stipulation of facts between the parties, that she
had failed to remit the amount of P2,380.75 of her collections. She
then executed
7
a promissory note for that amount in favor of
petitioner. All of these took place in a formal proceeding and with
the agreement of the parties and/or their counsel.
On November 23, 1993, Labor Arbiter Irenarco R. Rimando
handed down a decision declaring that private respondent, who had
already gained the status of a regular employee, was illegally
dismissed by petitioner. Her reinstatement, plus payment of the
corresponding back wages and COLA, was correspondingly
ordered, the labor arbiter being of the firmly expressed view that the
ground relied upon by petitioner in dismissing private respondent
was clearly insufficient, and that it was apparent that she had been
discriminated against on account of her having contracted marriage
in violation of company rules.
On appeal to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC),
said public respondent upheld the labor arbiter and, in its decision
dated April 29, 1994, it ruled that private respondent had indeed
been the subject of an unjust and unlaw-

______________

5 Id., 50; Annex K.


6 Id., 51; Annex L.
7 Id., 53; Annex N.

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ful discrimination by her employer, PT&T. However, the decision of


the labor arbiter was modified with the qualification that Grace de
Guzman deserved to be suspended for three months in view of the
dishonest nature of her acts which should not be condoned. In all
other respects, the NLRC affirmed the decision of the labor arbiter,
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including the order for the reinstatement of private respondent in her


employment with PT&T.
The subsequent motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner
was rebuffed by respondent NLRC in its resolution of November 9,
1994, hence this special civil action assailing the aforestated
decisions of the labor arbiter and respondent NLRC, as well as the
denial resolution of the latter.
1. Decreed in the Bible itself is the universal norm that women
should be regarded with love and respect but, through the ages, men
have responded to that injunction with indifference, on the hubristic
conceit that women constitute the inferior sex. Nowhere has that
prejudice against womankind been so pervasive as in the field of
labor, especially on the matter of equal employm ent opportunities
and standards. In the Philippine setting, women have traditionally
been considered as falling within the vulnerable groups or types of
workers w ho must be safeguarded with preventive and remedial
social legislation against discriminatory and exploitative practices in
hiring, training, benefits, promotion and retention.
The Constitution, cognizant of the disparity in rights betw een
men and women in almost all phases of social and political life,
provides a gamut of protective provisions. 8
To cite a few of the
primordial ones, Section 14, Article II on the Declaration of
Principles and State Policies, expressly recognizes the role of
women in nation-building and commands the State to ensure, at all
times, the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.
Corollary thereto, Section 3 of Article

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8 The State recognizes the role of women in nation-building, and shall ensure the
fundamental equality before the law of women and men (Sec. 14, Art. II).

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XIII (the progenitor whereof dates back to both the 1935 and 1973
Constitution) pointedly requires the State to afford full protection to
labor and to promote full employment and equality of employment
opportunities for all, including an assurance of entitlement to
tenurial
10
security of all workers. Similarly, Section 14 of Article
XIII mandates that the State shall protect working women through
provisions for opportunities that w ould enable them to reach their
full potential.
2. Corrective labor and social laws on gender inequality have
emerged with more frequency in the years since the Labor Code was
enacted on May 1, 1974 as Presidential Decree No. 442, largely due
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to our country’s commitment as a signatory to the United Nations


Convention on the Elimina-

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9 The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, organized or
unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities
for all.
It shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective
bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including the right to
strike in accordance with law. They shall be entitled to security of tenure, humane
conditions of work, and a living wage. They shall also participate in policy and
decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits as may be provided by
law.
The State shall promote the principle of shared responsibility between workers and
employers and the preferential use of voluntary modes of settling disputes, including
conciliation, and shall enforce their mutual compliance therewith to foster industrial
peace.
The State shall regulate the relations between workers and employers, recognizing
the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises
to reasonable returns on investment, and to expansion and growth (Sec. 3, Art. XIII).
10 The State shall protect working women by providing safe and healthful working
conditions, taking into account their maternal functions, and such facilities and
opportunities that will enhance their welfare and enable them to realize their full
potential in the service of the nation (Sec. 14, Art. XIII ).

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tion of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CE-DAW). 12
Principal among these laws are Republic Act No. 6727 which
explicitly prohibits discrimination against women with respect to
terms and conditions of employment, 13
promotion, and training
opportunities; Republic Act No. 6955 which bans the “mail-order-
bride” practice for a fee and the export of female labor to countries
that cannot guarantee protection
14
to the rights of women workers;
Republic Act No. 7192, also known as the “Women in
Development and Nation Building Act,” which affords women equal
opportunities with men to act and to enter into contracts, and for
appointment, admission, training, graduation, and commissioning in
all m ilitary or similar schools of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines
15
and the Philippine National Police; Republic Act No.
7322 increasing the maternity benefits 16
granted to women in the
private sector; Republic Act No. 7877 which ou tlaw s an d pun-
ishes sexual harassment in the workplace and in 17the education and
training environment; and Republic Act No. 8042,
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11 Adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, it is regarded as the most


comprehensive international treaty governing the rights of women. The Philippines
became a signatory thereto a year after its adoption by the UN and in 1981, the
country ratified it.
The Philippines had likewise been an active participant in all the four U.N. World
Conferences on Women, namely those held in Mexico in 1975, Copenhagen in 1980,
Nairobi in 1985, and Beijing in 1995.
Other relevant international laws to which the Philippines adheres as a member of
the international community include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
12 Approved, June 9, 1989.
13 Approved, June 13, 1990.
14 Approved, February 12, 1992.
15 Approved, March 30, 1992.
16 Approved, February 14, 1995.
17 Approved, June 7, 1995.

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or the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995,”


which prescribes as a matter of policy, inter alia, the deployment of
migrant workers, with emphasis on women, only in countries where
their rights are secure. Likewise,
18
it would not be amiss to point out
that in the Family Code, women’s rights in the field of civil law
have been greatly enhanced and expanded.
In the Labor Code, provisions governing the rights of women
workers are found in Articles 130 to 138 thereof. Article 130
involves the right against particular kinds of night work while
Article 132 ensures the right of women to be provided with facilities
and standards which the Secretary of Labor may establish to ensure
their health and safety. For purposes of labor and social legislation, a
woman working in a nightclub, cocktail lounge, m assage clinic, bar
or other similar establishments shall be considered as an employee
under Article 138. Article 135, on the other hand, recognizes a
woman’s right against discrimination with respect to terms and
conditions of employment on account simply of sex. Finally, and
this brings us to the issue at hand, Article 136 explicitly prohibits
discrimination merely by reason of the marriage of a female
employee.
3. Acknowledged as paramount in the due process scheme is the
constitutional guarantee of protection to labor and security of tenure.
Thus, an employer is required, as a condition sine qua non prior to

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severance of the employment ties of an individual under his employ,


to convincingly establish, through substantial evidence, the
existence of a valid and just cause in dispensing with the services of
such employee, one’s labor being regarded as constitutionally
protected property.
On the other hand, it is recognized that regulation of manpower
by the company falls within the so-called management prerogatives,
which prescriptions encompass the matter of hiring, supervision of
workers, work assignments, working methods and assignments, as
well as regulations on the transfer of employees, lay-off of workers,
and the discipline, dis-

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18 Effective August 3, 1988.

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missal, and recall of employees. As put in a case, an employer is
free to regulate, according to his discretion and best business
judgment, all aspects of employment, “from hiring to firing,” except
in cases20 of unlawful discrimination or those which may be provided
by law.
In the case at bar, petitioner’s policy of not accepting or
considering as disqualified from work any woman worker who
contracts marriage runs afoul of the test of, and the right against,
discrimination, afforded all women workers by our labor laws and
by no less than the Constitution. Contrary to petitioner’s assertion
that it dismissed private respondent from employment on account of
her dishonesty, the record discloses clearly that her ties with the
company were dissolved principally because of the company’s
policy that married women are not qualified for employment in
PT&T, and not merely because of her supposed acts of dishonesty.
That it was so can easily be seen from the memorandum sent to
private respondent by Delia M. Oficial, the branch supervisor of the
company, with the reminder, in the words of the latter, that “you’re
fully aware that the company is not accepting married 21
women
employee (sic), as it was verbally instructed to you.” Again, in the
termination notice sent to her by the same branch supervisor, private
respondent was made to understand that her severance from the
service was not only by reason of her concealment of her married
status

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19 Caltex Refinery Employees Association (CREA) vs. National Labor Relations


Commission, et al., G.R. No. 102993, July 14, 1995, 246 SCRA 271; Oriental
Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Inc. vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al.,
G.R. No. 111905, July 31, 1995, 246 SCRA 794; Nuez vs. National Labor Relations
Commission, et al., G.R. No. 107574, December 28, 1994, 239 SCRA 518; San
Miguel Corporation vs. Ubaldo, et al., G.R. No. 92859, February 1, 1993, 218 SCRA
293.
20 NAFLU vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 90739,
October 3, 1991, 202 SCRA 346.
21 Quoted in the Decision of the Third Division, NLRC, in NLRC Case No. RAB-
CAR-02-0042-92, Annex B of petition; Rollo, 35. See also Annex J, supra, Fn. 4.

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but, over and on top of that, was her violation of the company’s
policy against marriage (“and even told you that married women22
employees are not applicable [sic] or accepted in our company.”)
Parenthetically, this seems to be the curious reason why it was made
to appear in the initiatory pleadings that petitioner was represented
in this case only by its said supervisor and not by its highest ranking
officers who 23
would otherwise be solidarily liable w ith the
corporation.
Verily, private respondent’s act of concealing the true nature of
her status from PT&T could not be properly characterized as willful
or in bad faith as she was moved to act the way she did mainly
because she wanted to retain a permanent job in a stable company. In
other words, she was practically forced by that very same illegal
company policy into misrepresenting her civil status for fear of
being disqualified from work. While loss of confidence is a just 24
cause for termination of employment, it should not be simulated. It
must rest on an actual breach of duty25
committed by the employee
and not on the employer’s caprices. Furthermore, it should never be
used as a 26subterfuge for causes which are improper, illegal, or
unjustified.
In the present controversy, petitioner’s expostulations that it
dismissed private respondent, not because the latter got

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22 Annex L, id.; Rollo, 51.


23 Art. 289, Labor Code; see AC Ransom Labor Union-CCLU vs. National Labor
Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 69494, June 10, 1986, 142 SCRA 269; Chua
vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 81450, February 15, 1990,
182 SCRA 353.

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24 Mapalo vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 107940, June
17, 1994, 233 SCRA 266; PNOC-Energy Development Corporation vs. National
Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 79182, September 11, 1991, 201 SCRA
487.
25 San Antonio vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 100829,
November 21, 1995, 250 SCRA 359; Labor vs. National Labor Relations
Commission, G.R. No. 110388, September 14, 1995, 248 SCRA 183.
26 Hospicio de San Jose de Basili vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al.,
G.R. No. 75997, August 18, 1988, 164 SCRA 516.

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married but because she concealed that fact, does have a hollow
ring. Her concealment, so it is claimed, bespeaks dishonesty hence
the consequent loss of confidence in her which justified her
dismissal. Petitioner would asseverate, therefore, that while it has
nothing against marriage, it nonetheless takes umbrage over the
concealment of that fact. This improbable reasoning, w ith
interstitial distinctions, perturbs the Court since private respondent
may well be minded to claim that the imputation of dishonesty
should be the other w ay around.
Petitioner would have the Court believe that although private
respondent defied its policy against its female employees contracting
marriage, what could be an act of insubordination was
inconsequential. What it submits as unforgivable is her concealment
of that marriage yet, at the same time, declaring that marriage is a
trivial matter to which it supposedly has no objection. In other
words, PT&T says it gives its blessings to its female employees
contracting marriage, despite the maternity leaves and other benefits
it would consequently respond for and which obviously it would
have w anted to avoid. If that employee confesses such fact of
marriage, there will be no sanction; but if such employee conceals
the same instead of proceeding to the confessional, she will be
dismissed. This line of reasoning does not impress us as reflecting
its true management policy or that we are being regaled with
responsible advocacy.
This Court should be spared the ennui of strained reasoning and
the tedium of propositions which confuse through less than candid
arguments. Indeed, petitioner glosses over the fact that it was its
unlawful policy against married women, both on the aspects of
qualification and retention, which compelled private respondent to
conceal her supervenient marriage. It was, however, that very policy
alone which was the cause of private respondent’s secretive conduct
now complained of. It is then apropos to recall the familiar saying
that he who is the cause of the cause is the cause of the evil caused.
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Finally, petitioner’s collateral insistence on the admission of private


respondent that she supposedly misappropriated company funds, as
an additional ground to dismiss her from employment, is somewhat
insincere and self-serving. Concededly, private respondent admitted
in the course of the proceedings that she failed to remit some of her
collections, but that is an altogether different story. The fact is that
she was dismissed solely because of her concealment of her marital
status, and not on the basis of that supposed defalcation of company
funds. That the labor arbiter would thus consider petitioner’s
submissions on this supposed dishonesty as a mere afterthought, just
to bolster its case for dismissal, is a perceptive conclusion born of
experience in labor cases. For, there was no showing that private
respondent deliberately misappropriated the amount or whether her
failure to remit the same was through negligence and, if so, whether
the negligence was in nature simple or grave. In fact, it was merely
agreed that private respondent execute a promissory note to refund
the same, which she did, and the matter was deemed settled as a
peripheral issue in the labor case.
Private respondent, it must be observed, had gained regular status
at the time of her dismissal. When she was served her walking
papers on January 29, 1992, she was about to complete the
probationary period of 150 days as she was contracted as a
probationary employee on September 2, 1991. That her dismissal
would be effected just when her probationary period was winding
down clearly raises the plausible conclusion that27 it was done in order
to prevent her from earning security of tenure. On the other hand,
her earlier stints with the company as reliever were undoubtedly
those of a regular employee, even if the same were for fixed periods,
as she performed activities which were essential or necessary in

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27 Cielo vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 78693, January
28, 1991, 193 SCRA 410; Brent School, Inc. vs. Zamora, et al., G.R. No. 48494,
February 5, 1990, 181 SCRA 702.

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the usual trade and business of PT&T. The primary standard of
determining regular employment is the reasonable connection
between the activity performed by 29
the employee in relation to the
business or trade of the employer.
As an employee who had therefore gained regular status, and as
she had been dismissed without just cause, she is entitled to
reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges
and to full back wages, inclusive
30
of allowances and other benefits or
their monetary equivalent. However, as she had undeniably
committed an act of dishonesty in concealing her status, albeit under
the compulsion of an unlawful imposition of petitioner, the three-
month suspension imposed by respondent NLRC must be upheld to
obviate the impression or inference that such act should be
condoned. It would be unfair to the employer if she were to return to
its fold without any sanction whatsoever for her act which was not
totally justified. Thus, her entitlement to back wages, which shall be
computed from the time her compensation was withheld up to the
time of her actual reinstatement, shall be reduced by deducting
therefrom the amount corresponding to her three months suspension.
4. The government, to repeat, abhors any stipulation or policy in
the nature of that adopted by petitioner PT&T. The Labor Code
states, in no uncertain terms, as follows:

“ART. 136. Stipulation against marriage.—It shall be unlawful for an


employer to require as a condition of employment or continuation of
employment that a woman shall not get married, or to stipulate expressly or
tacitly that upon getting married, a woman employee shall be deemed
resigned or separated, or to actually

______________

28 Art. 280, Labor Code; see PLDT vs. Montemayor, et al., G.R. No. 88626, October 12,
1990, 190 SCRA 427.
29 De Leon vs . National Labor Relations Comm ission, et al., G.R. No. 70705, August 21,
1989, 176 SCRA 615.
30 Molave Tours Corp. vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al., G.R. No. 112909,
November 24, 1995, 250 SCRA 325; see Art. 279, Labor Code, as amended by Republic Act
No. 6715.

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Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company vs. NLRC

dismiss, discharge, discriminate or otherwise prejudice a woman employee


merely by reason of marriage.”

This provision had a studied history for its 31origin can be traced to
Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 148, better known as the
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“Women and Child Labor Law,” which 32


amended paragraph (c),
Section 12 of Republic Act No. 679, entitled “An Act to Regulate
the Employment of Women and Children, to Provide Penalties for
Violations Thereof, and for Other Purposes.” The forerunner to
Republic Act No. 679, on the other hand, was Act No. 3071 which
became law on March 16, 1923 and which regulated the
employment of women and children in shops, factories, industrial,
agricultural, and mercantile establishments and other places of labor
in the then Philippine Islands.
It would be worthwhile to reflect upon and adopt 33
here the
rationalization in Zialcita, et al. vs. Philippine Air Lines, a decision
that emanated from the Office of the President. There, a policy of
Philippine Air Lines requiring that prospective flight attendants must
be single and that they will be automatically separated from the
service once they marry was declared void, it being violative of the
clear mandate in Article 136 of the Labor Code with regard to
discrimination against married women. Thus:

“Of first impression is the incompatibility of the respondent’s policy or


regulation with the codal provision of law. Respondent is resolute in its
contention that Article 136 of the Labor Code applies only to women
employed in ordinary occupations and that the prohibition against marriage
of women engaged in extraordinary occupations, like flight attendants, is
fair and reasonable, considering the peculiarities of their chosen profession.
We cannot subs cribe to the line of reasoning pursued by respondent. All
along, it knew that the controverted policy has already

______________

31 Promulgated on March 13, 1973.


32 Approved on April 15, 1952. It was later amended by Republic Act No. 1131, which in
turn was approved on June 16, 1954.
33 Case No. RO4-3-3398-76; February 20, 1977.

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Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company vs. NLRC

met its doom as early as March 13, 1973 when Presidential Decree No. 148,
otherwise known as the Women and Child Labor Law, was promulgated.
But for the timidity of those affected or their labor unions in challenging the
validity of the policy, the same was able to obtain a momentary reprieve. A
close look at Section 8 of said decree, which amended paragraph (c) of
Section 12 of Republic Act No. 679, reveals that it is exactly the same
provision reproduced verbatim in Article 136 of the Labor Code, which was
promulgated on May 1, 1974 to take effect six (6) months later, or on
November 1, 1974.

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It cannot be gainsaid that, with the reiteration of the same provision in


the new Labor Code, all policies and acts against it are deemed illegal and
therefore abrogated. True, Article 132 enjoins the Secretary of Labor to
establish standards that will ensure the safety and health of women
employees and in appropriate cases shall by regulation require employers to
determine appropriate minimum standards for termination in special
occupations, such as those of flight attendants, but that is precisely the
factor that militates against the policy of respondent. The standards have not
yet been established as set forth in the firs t paragraph, nor has the Secretary
of Labor issued any regulation affecting flight attendants.
It is logical to presume that, in the absence of said standards or
regulations which are as yet to be established, the policy of respondent
against marriage is patently illegal. This finds support in Section 9 of the
New Constitution, which provides:

“Sec. 9. The State shall afford protection to labor, promote full employment and
equality in employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex, race, or
creed, and regulate the relations between workers and employees. The State shall
assure the rights of workers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of
tenure, and just and humane conditions of work x x x.”

Moreover, we cannot agree to the respondent’s proposition that


termination from employment of flight attendants on account of marriage is
a fair and reasonable standard designed for their own health, safety,
protection and welfare, as no basis has been laid therefor. Actually,
respondent claims that its concern is not so much against the continued
employment of the flight attendant merely by reason of marriage as
observed by the Secretary of Labor, but rather on the cons equence of
marriage-pregnancy. Respondent discussed at length in the ins tant appeal
the supposed ill effects of pregnancy on flight attendants in the course of th
eir empl oyment . We feel that

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Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company vs. NLRC

this needs no further discussion as it had been adequately explained by the


Secretary of Labor in his decision of May 2, 1976.
In a vain attempt to give meaning to its position, respondent went as far
as invoking the provisions of Articles 52 and 216 of the New Civil Code on
the preservation of marriage as an inviolable social institution and the
family as a basic social institution, respectively, as bases for its policy of
non-marriage. In both instances, respondent predicates absence of a flight
attendant from her home for long periods of time as contributory to an
unhappy married life. This is pure conjecture not based on actual conditions,
considering that, in this modern world, sophisticated technology has
narrowed the distance from one place to another. Moreover, respondent

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overlooked the fact that married flight attendants can program their lives to
adapt to prevailing circumstances and events.
Article 136 is not intended to apply only to women employed in ordinary
occupations, or it should have categorically expressed so. The sweeping
intendment of the law, be it on special or ordinary occupations, is reflected
in the whole text and supported by Article 135 that speaks of non-
discrimination on the employment of women.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals in Gualberto,34


et al. vs.
Marinduque Mining & Industrial Corporation considered as void
a policy of the same nature. In said case, respondent, in dismissing
from the service the complainant, invoked a policy of the firm to
consider female employees in the project it was undertaking as
separated the moment they get married due to lack of facilities for
married women. Respondent further claimed that complainant was
employed in the project with an oral understanding that her services
would be terminated when she gets married. Branding the policy of
the employer as an example of “discriminatory chauvinism”
tantamount to denying equal employment opportunities to women
simply on account of their sex, the appellate court struck down said
employer policy as unlawful in view of its repugnance to the Civil
Code, Presidential Decree No. 148 and the Constitution.
Under American jurisprudence, job requirements which establish
employer pref eren ce or con d ition s relating to the

_______________

34 CA-G.R. No. 52753-R, June 28, 1978.

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Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company vs. NLRC

marital status of an employee are categorized as a “sex-plus”


discrimination where it is imposed on one sex and not on the other.
Further, the same should be evenly applied and must not inflict
adverse effects on a racial or sexual group which is protected by
federal job discrimination laws. Employment rules that forbid or
restrict the employment of married women, but do not apply to
married men, have been held to violate Title VII of the United States
Civil Rights Act of 1964, the main federal statute prohibiting job
discrimination against employees
35
and applicants on the basis of,
among other things, sex.
Further, it is not relevant that the rule is not directed against all
women but just against married women. And, where the employer
discriminates against married women, but not against married
36
men,
the variable is sex and the discrimination is unlawful. Upon the

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other hand, a requirement that a woman employee must remain


unmarried could be justified as a “bona fide occupational
qualification,” or BFOQ, where the particular requirements of the
job would justify the same, but not on the ground of a general
principle, such as the desirability of spreading work in the
workplace. A requirement of that nature would be valid provided it
reflects an inherent quality reasonably necessary for satisfactory job
performance. Thus, in one case, a no-marriage rule applicable to
both male and female flight attendants, was regarded as unlawful
since the restriction
37
was not related to the job performance of the
flight attendants.
5. Petitioner’s policy is not only in derogation of the provisions
of Article 136 of the Labor Code on the right of a woman to be free
from any kind of stipulation against marriage in connection with her
employment, but it likewise assaults good morals and public policy,
tending as it does to deprive a woman of the freedom to choose her
status, a privilege that by all accounts inheres in the individual as an
intangible and

________________

35 45A Am. Jur. 2d, Job Discrimination, Sec. 506, p. 486.


36 Ibid., id., id.
37 Ibid., id., Sec. 507.

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Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company vs. NLRC
38
inalienable right. Hence, while it is true that the parties to a
contract may establish any agreements, terms, and conditions that
they may deem convenient, the same should not be contrary
39
to law,
morals, good customs, public order, or public policy. Carried to its
logical consequences, it may even be said that petitioner’s policy
against legitimate marital bonds would encourage illicit or common-
law relations and subvert the sacrament of marriage.
Parenthetically, the Civil Code provisions on the contract of labor
state that the relations between the parties, that is, of capital and
labor, are not merely contractual, impressed as they are with so
much40public interest that the same should yield to the common
good. It goes on to intone that neither capital nor labor should visit
acts of oppression against 41
the other, nor impair the interest or
convenience of the public. In the final reckoning, the danger of just
such a policy against marriage followed by petitioner PT&T is that it
strikes at the very essence, ideals and purpose of marriage as an
inviolable social institution and, ultimately, of the family as the

42
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42
foundation of the nation. That it must be effectively interdicted
here in all its indirect, disguised or dissembled forms as dis-

_______________

38 Tolentino, A., Civil Code of the Philippines, Vol. III, 1979 ed., 235; see Art.
874, Civil Code.
39 Art. 1306, Civil Code.
40 Art. 1700, Civil Code; see Macleod & Co. of the Philippines vs. Progressive
Federation of Labor, 97 Phil. 205 (1955).
41 Art. 1701, Civil Code.
42 The 1987 Constitution provides:

The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a
basic autonomous social institution. x x x (Sec. 15, Art. II).
The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it
shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development (Sec. 1, Art. XV).
Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be
protected by the State (Sec. 2, Art. XV).

615

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People vs. Dela Torre

criminatory conduct derogatory of the laws of the land is not only in


order but imperatively required.
ON THE FOREGOING PREMISES, the petition of Philippine
Telegraph and Telephone Company is hereby DISMISSED for lack
of merit, with double costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

Romero, Puno, Mendoza an d Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.

Petition dismissed.

Note.—It is the lack of clear, valid and legal cause that is


constitutive of illegal dismissal w arranting reinstatement and the
award of backwages. (General Textile, Inc. vs. National Labor
Relations Commission, 243 SCRA 232 [1995])

——o0o——

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