ABS CBN vs Nazareno
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ABS-CBN BROADCASTING CORPORATION vs. MARLYN NAZARENO et al. G.R. No. 164156 September 26, 2006 Facts: Petitioner ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation (ABS-CBN) is engaged in the broadcasting business and owns a network of television and radio stations, whose operations revolve around the broadcast, transmission, and relay of telecommunication signals. It sells and deals in or otherwise utilizes the airtime it generates from its radio and television operations. It has a FRANCHISE as a broadcasting company, and was likewise issued a license and authority to operate by the National Telecommunications Commission. Petitioner employed respondents Nazareno, Gerzon, Deiparine, and Lerasan as production assistants (PAs) on different dates. They were assigned at the news and public affairs, for various radio programs in the Cebu Broadcasting Station. On December 19, 1996, petitioner and the ABS-CBN Rank-and-File Employees executed a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to be effective during the period from December 11, 1996 to December 11, 1999. However, since petitioner refused to recognize PAs as part of the bargaining unit, respondents were not included to the CBA. On October 12, 2000, respondents filed a Complaint for Recognition of Regular Employment Status, Underpayment of Overtime Pay, Holiday Pay, Premium Pay, Service Incentive Pay, Sick Leave Pay, and 13th Month Pay with Damages against the petitioner before the NLRC. The Labor Arbiter rendered judgment in favor of the respondents, and declared that they were regular employees of petitioner as such, they were awarded monetary benefits. NLRC affirmed the decision of the Labor Arbiter. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but CA dismissed it. Issue: Whether or not the respondents were considered regular employees of ABSCBN. Ruling: The respondents are regular employees of ABS-CBN. It was held that where a person has rendered at least one year of service, regardless of the nature of the activity performed, or where the work is continuous or intermittent, the employment is considered regular as long as the activity exists, the reason being that a customary appointment is not indispensable before one may be formally declared as having attained regular status. In Universal Robina Corporation v. Catapang, the Court states that the primary standard, therefore, of determining regular employment is the reasonable connection between the particular activity performed by the employee in relation to the usual trade or business of the employer. The test is whether the former is usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer. The connection can be determined by considering the nature of work performed and its relation to the scheme of the particular business or trade in its entirety. Also, if the employee has been performing the job for at least a year, even if the performance is not continuous and merely intermittent, the law deems repeated and continuing
need for its performance as sufficient evidence of the necessity if not indispensability of that activity to the business. Hence, the employment is considered regular, but only with respect to such activity and while such activity exists. Additionally, respondents cannot be considered as project or program employees because no evidence was presented to show that the duration and scope of the project were determined or specified at the time of their engagement. In the case at bar, however, the employer-employee relationship between petitioner and respondents has been proven. In the selection and engagement of respondents, no peculiar or unique skill, talent or celebrity status was required from them because they were merely hired through petitioner’s personnel department just like any ordinary employee. Respondents did not have the power to bargain for huge talent fees, a circumstance negating independent contractual relationship. Respondents are highly dependent on the petitioner for continued work. The degree of control and supervision exercised by petitioner over respondents through its supervisors negates the allegation that respondents are independent contractors. The presumption is that when the work done is an integral part of the regular business of the employer and when the worker, relative to the employer, does not furnish an independent business or professional service, such work is a regular employment of such employee and not an independent contractor. As regular employees, respondents are entitled to the benefits granted to all other regular employees of petitioner under the CBA . Besides, only talent-artists were excluded from the CBA and not production assistants who are regular employees of the respondents. Moreover, under Article 1702 of the New Civil Code: “In case of doubt, all labor legislation and all labor contracts shall be construed in favor of the safety and decent living of the laborer.”
JOSE SONZA vs. ABS-CBN BROADCASTING CORPORATION G.R. No. 138051 June 10, 2004 FACTS: In May 1994, ABS-CBN signed an agreement with the Mel and Jay Management and Development Corporation (MJMDC). ABS-CBN was represented by its corporate officers while MJMDC was represented by Sonza, as President and general manager, and Tiangco as its EVP and treasurer. Referred to in the agreement as agent, MJMDC agreed to provide Sonza’s services exclusively to ABS-CBN as talent for radio and television. ABS-CBN agreed to pay Sonza a monthly talent fee of P310, 000 for the first year and P317, 000 for the second and third year. On April 1996, Sonza wrote a letter to ABS-CBN's President, Eugenio Lopez III, where he irrevocably resigned in view of the recent events concerning his program and career. The acts of the station are violative of the Agreement and said letter will serve as notice of rescission of said contract. The letter also contained the waiver and renunciation for recovery of the remaining amount stipulated but reserves the right to seek recovery of the other benefits under said Agreement.
After the said letter, Sonza filed with the Department of Labor and Employment a complaint alleging that ABS-CBN did not pay his salaries, separation pay, service incentive pay,13th month pay, signing bonus, travel allowance and amounts under the Employees Stock Option Plan (ESOP). ABS-CBN contended that no employeeemployer relationship existed between the parties. However, ABS-CBN continued to remit Sonza’s monthly talent fees but opened another account for the same purpose. The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint and found that there is no employeeemployer relationship. The LA ruled that he is not an employee by reason of his peculiar skill and talent as a TV host and a radio broadcaster. Unlike an ordinary employee, he was free to perform his services in accordance with his own style. NLRC and CA affirmed the LA. Should there be any complaint, it does not arise from an employer-employee relationship but from a breach of contract. ISSUE: Whether or not there was employer-employee relationship between the parties. HELD: There is no employer-employee relationship between Sonza and ABS-CBN. Petition denied. Judgment decision affirmed. Case law has consistently held that the elements of an employee-employer relationship are selection and engagement of the employee, the payment of wages, the power of dismissal and the employer’s power to control the employee on the means and methods by which the work is accomplished. The last element, the socalled "control test", is the most important element. A. Selection and Engagement of Employee ABS-CBN engaged SONZA’s services to co-host its television and radio programs because of SONZA’s peculiar skills, talent and celebrity status. SONZA contends that the “discretion used by respondent in specifically selecting and hiring complainant over other broadcasters of possibly similar experience and qualification as complainant belies respondent’s claim of independent contractorship.” However, independent contractors often present themselves to possess unique skills, expertise or talent to distinguish them from ordinary employees. The specific selection and hiring of SONZA, because of his unique skills, talent and celebrity status not possessed by ordinary employees, is a circumstance indicative, but not conclusive, of an independent contractual relationship. If SONZA did not possess such unique skills, talent and celebrity status, ABS-CBN would not have entered into the Agreement with SONZA but would have hired him through its personnel department just like any other employee.
B. Payment of Wages
ABS-CBN directly paid SONZA his monthly talent fees with no part of his fees going to MJMDC. SONZA asserts that this mode of fee payment shows that he was an employee of ABS-CBN. SONZA also points out that ABS-CBN granted him benefits and privileges “which he would not have enjoyed if he were truly the subject of a valid job contract.” All the talent fees and benefits paid to SONZA were the result of negotiations that led to the Agreement. If SONZA were ABS-CBN’s employee, there would be no need for the parties to stipulate on benefits such as “SSS, Medicare, x x x and 13th month pay” which the law automatically incorporates into every employeremployee contract. Whatever benefits SONZA enjoyed arose from contract and not because of an employer-employee relationship. In addition, SONZA’s talent fees are so huge and out of the ordinary that they indicate more an independent contractual relationship rather than an employer-employee relationship. ABS-CBN agreed to pay SONZA such huge talent fees precisely because of SONZA’s unique skills, talent and celebrity status not possessed by ordinary employees. C. Power of Dismissal For violation of any provision of the Agreement, either party may terminate their relationship. SONZA failed to show that ABS-CBN could terminate his services on grounds other than breach of contract, such as retrenchment to prevent losses as provided under labor laws. During the life of the Agreement, ABS-CBN agreed to pay SONZA’s talent fees as long as “AGENT and Jay Sonza shall faithfully and completely perform each condition of this Agreement.” Even if it suffered severe business losses, ABS-CBN could not retrench SONZA because ABS-CBN remained obligated to pay SONZA’s talent fees during the life of the Agreement. This circumstance indicates an independent contractual relationship between SONZA and ABS-CBN. SONZA admits that even after ABS-CBN ceased broadcasting his programs, ABSCBN still paid him his talent fees. Plainly, ABS-CBN adhered to its undertaking in the Agreement to continue paying SONZA’s talent fees during the remaining life of the Agreement even if ABS-CBN cancelled SONZA’s programs through no fault of SONZA. D. Power of Control First, SONZA contends that ABS-CBN exercised control over the means and methods of his work. SONZA’s argument is misplaced. ABS-CBN engaged SONZA’s services specifically to co-host the “Mel & Jay” programs. ABS-CBN did not assign any other work to SONZA. To perform his work, SONZA only needed his skills and talent. How SONZA delivered his lines, appeared on television, and sounded on radio were outside ABS-CBN’s control. SONZA did not have to render eight hours of work per day. The Agreement required SONZA to attend only rehearsals and tapings of the shows, as well as pre- and post-production staff meetings. ABS-CBN could not dictate the contents of SONZA’s script. However, the Agreement prohibited SONZA from criticizing in his shows ABS-CBN or its interests. The clear implication is that SONZA had a free hand on what to say or discuss in his shows provided he did not attack ABS-CBN or its interests.
Second, SONZA urges us to rule that he was ABS-CBN’s employee because ABSCBN subjected him to its rules and standards of performance. SONZA claims that this indicates ABS-CBN’s control “not only [over] his manner of work but also the quality of his work." The Agreement stipulates that SONZA shall abide with the rules and standards of performance “covering talents” of ABS-CBN. The Agreement does not require SONZA to comply with the rules and standards of performance prescribed for employees of ABS-CBN. The code of conduct imposed on SONZA under the Agreement refers to the “Television and Radio Code of the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster sa Pilipinas (KBP), which has been adopted by the COMPANY (ABS-CBN) as its Code of Ethics.” The KBP code applies to broadcasters, not to employees of radio and television stations. Broadcasters are not necessarily employees of radio and television stations. Clearly, the rules and standards of performance referred to in the Agreement are those applicable to talents and not to employees of ABS-CBN. In any event, not all rules imposed by the hiring party on the hired party indicate that the latter is an employee of the former. In this case, SONZA failed to show that these rules controlled his performance. We find that these general rules are merely guidelines towards the achievement of the mutually desired result, which are top-rating television and radio programs that comply with standards of the industry. Lastly, SONZA insists that the “exclusivity clause” in the Agreement is the most extreme form of control which ABS-CBN exercised over him. This argument is futile. Being an exclusive talent does not by itself mean that SONZA is an employee of ABS-CBN. Even an independent contractor can validly provide his services exclusively to the hiring party. In the broadcast industry, exclusivity is not necessarily the same as control. The hiring of exclusive talents is a widespread and accepted practice in the entertainment industry. This practice is not designed to control the means and methods of work of the talent, but simply to protect the investment of the broadcast station. The broadcast station normally spends substantial amounts of money, time and effort “in building up its talents as well as the programs they appear in and thus expects that said talents remain exclusive with the station for a commensurate period of time.” Normally, a much higher fee is paid to talents who agree to work exclusively for a particular radio or television station. In short, the huge talent fees partially compensates for exclusivity, as in the present case.
BRENT SCHOOL, INC.DIMACHE vs. RONALDO ZAMORA and DOROTEO R. ALEGRE G.R. No. L-48494 February 5, 1990 en banc
FACTS: Private respondent Doroteo R. Alegre was engaged as athletic director by petitioner Brent School, Inc. at a yearly compensation of P20,000.00. The contract fixed a specific term for its existence, five (5) years, i.e., from July 18, 1971, the date of execution of the agreement, to July 17, 1976. Subsequent subsidiary agreements dated March 15, 1973, August 28, 1973, and September 14, 1974 reiterated the same terms and conditions, including the expiry date, as those contained in the original contract of July 18, 1971. On April 20,1976, Alegre was given a copy of the report filed by Brent School with the Department of Labor advising of the termination of his services effective on July 16, 1976. The stated ground for the termination was "completion of contract, expiration of the definite period of EMPLOYMENT." Although protesting the announced termination stating that his services were necessary and desirable in the usual business of his employer, and his EMPLOYMENT lasted for 5 years - therefore he had acquired the status of regular employee - Alegre accepted the amount of P3,177.71, and signed a receipt therefor containing the phrase, "in full payment of services for the period May 16, to July 17, 1976 as full payment of contract." The Regional Director considered Brent School's report as an application for clearance to terminate EMPLOYMENT (not a report of termination), and accepting the recommendation of the Labor Conciliator, refused to give such clearance and instead required the reinstatement of Alegre, as a "permanent employee," to his former position without loss of seniority rights and with full back wages. ISSUE: Whether or not the provisions of the Labor Code, as amended, have anathematized "fixed period EMPLOYMENT" or EMPLOYMENT for a term. RULING: Respondent Alegre's contract of EMPLOYMENT with Brent School having lawfully terminated with and by reason of the expiration of the agreed term of period thereof, he is declared not entitled to reinstatement. The employment contract between Brent School and Alegre was executed on July 18, 1971, at a time when the Labor Code of the Philippines (P.D. 442) had not yet been promulgated. At that time, the validity of term employment was impliedly recognized by the Termination Pay Law, R.A. 1052, as amended by R.A. 1787. Prior, thereto, it was the Code of Commerce (Article 302) which governed employment without a fixed period, and also implicitly acknowledged the propriety of employment with a fixed period. The Civil Code of the Philippines, which was approved on June 18, 1949 and became effective on August 30,1950, itself deals with obligations with a period. No prohibition against term-or fixed-period employment is contained in any of its articles or is otherwise deducible therefrom. It is plain then that when the employment contract was signed between Brent School and Alegre, it was perfectly legitimate for them to include in it a stipulation
fixing the duration thereof Stipulations for a term were explicitly recognized as valid by this Court. The status of legitimacy continued to be enjoyed by fixed-period employment contracts under the Labor Code (PD 442), which went into effect on November 1, 1974. The Code contained explicit references to fixed period employment, or employment with a fixed or definite period. Nevertheless, obscuration of the principle of licitness of term employment began to take place at about this time. Article 320 originally stated that the "termination of employment of probationary employees and those employed WITH A FIXED PERIOD shall be subject to such regulations as the Secretary of Labor may prescribe." Article 321 prescribed the just causes for which an employer could terminate "an employment without a definite period." And Article 319 undertook to define "employment without a fixed period" in the following manner: …where the employee has been engaged to perform activities which are usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer, except where the employment has been fixed for a specific project or undertaking the completion or termination of which has been determined at the time of the engagement of the employee or where the work or service to be performed is seasonal in nature and the employment is for the duration of the season. Subsequently, the foregoing articles regarding employment with "a definite period" and "regular" employment were amended by Presidential Decree No. 850, effective December 16, 1975. Article 320, dealing with "Probationary and fixed period employment," was altered by eliminating the reference to persons "employed with a fixed period," and was renumbered (becoming Article 271). As it is evident that Article 280 of the Labor Code, under a narrow and literal interpretation, not only fails to exhaust the gamut of employment contracts to which the lack of a fixed period would be an anomaly, but would also appear to restrict, without reasonable distinctions, the right of an employee to freely stipulate with his employer the duration of his engagement, it logically follows that such a literal interpretation should be eschewed or avoided. The law must be given a reasonable interpretation, to preclude absurdity in its application. Outlawing the whole concept of term employment and subverting to boot the principle of freedom of contract to remedy the evil of employer's using it as a means to prevent their employees from obtaining security of tenure is like cutting off the nose to spite the face or, more relevantly, curing a headache by lopping off the head. Such interpretation puts the seal on Bibiso upon the effect of the expiry of an agreed period of employment as still good rule—a rule reaffirmed in the recent case of Escudero vs. Office of the President (G.R. No. 57822, April 26, 1989) where, in the fairly analogous case of a teacher being served by her school a notice of termination following the expiration of the last of three successive fixed-term employment contracts, the Court held: Reyes (the teacher's) argument is not persuasive. It loses sight of the fact that her employment was probationary, contractual in nature, and one with a definitive
period. At the expiration of the period stipulated in the contract, her appointment was deemed terminated and the letter informing her of the non-renewal of her contract is not a condition sine qua non before Reyes may be deemed to have ceased in the employ of petitioner UST. The notice is a mere reminder that Reyes' contract of employment was due to expire and that the contract would no longer be renewed. It is not a letter of termination. Paraphrasing Escudero, respondent Alegre's employment was terminated upon the expiration of his last contract with Brent School on July 16, 1976 without the necessity of any notice. The advance written advice given the Department of Labor with copy to said petitioner was a mere reminder of the impending expiration of his contract, not a letter of termination, nor an application for clearance to terminate which needed the approval of the Department of Labor to make the termination of his services effective. In any case, such clearance should properly have been given, not denied.
ANGELINA FRANCISCO, Petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, KASEI CORPORATION, SEIICHIRO TAKAHASHI, Respondents
Angelina Francisco the petitioner was hired by the respondent Kasei Corporation during its incorporation stage. She was designated as an Accountant and Corporate Secretary and was assigned to handle the accounting needs of the company. She was also designated as a Liason Officer to the City of Manila to process or secure the necessary permits for the operation of the company. In 1996, Petitioner was promoted as an Acting Manager. She was assigned to handle recruitment of all employees and perform management administration functions. In 2001, she was replaced by Liza Fuentes as Manager. The Treasurer despite being replaced by Ms. Fuentes, she will be connected with Kasei Corporation as a technical assistant to Seiji Kamura who is in charge of all the BIR matters. Thereafter, Kasie reduced her salary amounting to 2,500 a month beginning January up to September 201 for a total deduction of 22,500 as of September 2001. She was allegedly also did not receive her mid-year bonus because the company allegedly is not earning. On October 15, 2001, she was informed that she is no longer connected with the company. Because of this, she filed an action for constructive dismissal with the Labor Arbiter. The Labor Arbiter found that the petitioner was illegally dismissed. NLRC affirmed the decision while CA reversed it. Kasei Corporation claimed that Francisco was not their employee, having been designated as technical consultant who performed work at her own discretion without the control and supervision of the corporation, and that her consultancy
may be terminated any time considering that her services were only temporary in nature and dependent on the needs of the corporation. To prove that petitioner was not an employee of the corporation, private respondents submitted a list of employees for the years 1999 and 2000 duly received by the BIR showing that the petitioner was not among the employees reported to the BIR, as well as the list of payees subject to expanded withholding tax which included petitioner. SSS records were also submitted showing that petitioner’s latest employer was Seiji Corporation. Issue: Whether or not there was an employer-employee relationship between Francisco and Kasei Corporation; and whether Francisco was illegally dismissed. Held: Yes. There was an employer-employee relationship. There has been no uniform test to determine the existence of an employeremployee relation. There are instances when, aside from the employer’s power to control the employee with respect to the means and methods by which the work is to be accomplished, economic realities of the employment relations help provide a comprehensive analysis of the true classification of the individual, whether as employee, independent contractor, corporate officer or some other capacity. The better approach would therefore be to adopt a two-tiered test involving: (1) the putative employer’s power to control the employee with respect to the means and methods by which the work is to be accomplished; and (2) the underlying economic realities of the activity or relationship. This two-tiered test would provide us with a framework of analysis, which would take into consideration the totality of circumstances surrounding the true nature of the relationship between the parties. This is especially appropriate in this case where there is no written agreement or terms of reference to base the relationship on; and due to the complexity of the relationship based on the various positions and responsibilities given to the worker over the period of the latter’s employment. Thus, the determination of the relationship between employer and employee depends upon the circumstances of the whole economic activity, such as: (1) the extent to which the services performed are an integral part of the employer’s business; (2) the extent of the worker’s investment in equipment and facilities; (3) the nature and degree of control exercised by the employer; (4) the worker’s opportunity for profit and loss; (5) the amount of initiative, skill, judgment or foresight required for the success of the claimed independent enterprise; (6) the permanency and duration of the relationship between the worker and the employer; and (7) the degree of dependency of the worker upon the employer for his continued employment in that line of business. The proper standard of economic dependence is whether the worker is dependent on the alleged employer for his continued employment in that line of business.