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De La Salle University vs Bernardo

G.R. No. 190809

February 13, 2017

Topic: Retirement Benefits, Prescription of Claims

Facts: Juanito Bernardo was working as part-time lecturer at De La Salle University (DLS-AU) and his
contract was renewed at the start of every semester and summer. At age 75, he had no choice but to
retire when the school informed him he could not teach anymore due to the schools implementation of
the retirement age limit for its faculty members. Bernardo then sought to claim retirement benefits.
Meanwhile, the school averred that as mandated by the schools policy and CBA, only full-time
permanent faculty of DLS-AU for at least five years immediately preceeding the termination of their
employment could avail themselves of the post-employment benefits. Since Bernardo was only part-
time, he is not entitled. Furthermore, the school contends that since the mandatory retirement age is
65, he should have claimed upon reaching that age. Under Article 291 of Labor Code, all money claims
arising from employer-employee relations shall be filed within three years from the time the cause of
action accrues. Thus, the school avers that Bernardos claim has prescribed. The Labor Arbiter ruled in
favor of petitioner-school. The NLRC reversed LAs ruling and the CA affirmed the NLRC.

Issue: Is Bernardo entitled to retirement benefits?

Ruling: Yes. R.A. 7641 precisely intends to give the minimum retirement benefits to employees not
entitled to the same under CBA and other agreements. It also applies to establishments with existing
CBA or other agreements whose benefits are less than those prescribed in said law. The law applies to
all employees in the private sector, regardless of their position, designation or status and irrespective of
the method by which their wages are paid, except to those specifically exempted. The coverage of the
law includes part-time employees, employees of service and other job contractors and domestic helpers
or persons in the personal service of another. The only exemptions specifically identified by te law are
government employees covered by the Civil Service Law and employees of retail, service and agricultural
establishments regularly employing not more than 10 employees.

Furthermore, the cause of action for Bernardos retirement benefits only accrued after the
refusal of DLS-AU to pay him the same. Hence, Bernardos complaint was filed within the three-year
prescriptive period provided under Article 291 of LC. Estoppel on the part of the school also exist
because it knowingly offered Bernardo, contracts of employment to teach even beyond his retirement
age.