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Moral and exemplary damages in labor cases

We are sharing the legal research part of a recent appeal memorandum we filed in a labor case,
where our client won in the decision issued by the Arbiter but the same did not award moral and
exemplary damages in favor of our client. In the partial appeal, we prayed for such an award.

Xxx.

A. THIS LIMITED/PARTIAL APPEAL ONLY WITH RESPECT TO THE ABSENCE OF AN AWARD


OF MORAL AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES FOR THE MENTAL ANGUISH, ANXIETIES,
HUMILIATION AND RIDICULE THAT X X X HAD SUFFERED BY REASON OF THE GROSS
NEGLIGENCE, BAD FAITH, AND MALICE OF THE RESPODNENTS IN TERMINATING HIM
AS A WORKER AND IN ORDER TO SERVE AS A LESSON TO SOCIETY.

This appeal is limited and partial only, i.e., with respect only to the absence of an award of MORAL AND
EXEMPLARY DAMAGES.

Please note that the body and decretal of the Decision disposed of the issue of DAMAGES claimed and
prayed for by X X X in his Complaint, Position Paper and Reply Position Paper in a very short, terse,
succinct, brief, and direct manner, thus:

“All other claims are dismissed for lack of merit.”

Note that it did not contain a RATIO DECINDENDI for such a holding or conclusion, contrary to the
requirements, letter and spirit of the 1987 CONSTITUTION. See Art. VIII, Sec. 14 of the 1987 Constitution,
to wit:

SEC. 14. - No decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly
and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based.

No petition for review or motion for reconsideration of a decision of the court shall be
refused due course or denied without stating the legal basis therefor.
Article 2219 of the Civil Code provides for recovery of moral damages in certain cases:

Art. 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases:

X x x.

(10) Acts and actions referred to in Articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, and 35.

X x x.”

ARTICLE 21 of the Civil Code provides that:

“Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in manner that is
contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for
the damage”.

X X X humbly submits that the respondents, by intentionally and maliciously committing the illegal act of
UNLAWFUL DISMISSAL of his employment without just cause, without proper due process of law, and
without respecting his right to counsel, had WILFULLY caused him LOSS OR INJURY, The loss involved his
proprietary right to LIVELIHOOD AND EMPLOYMENT. The injury consisted of MENTRAL ANGUISH,
BESMIRCHED RERPUTATION, PUBLIC RDICULE, SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, AND EXTREME ANXIETIES as
a human being. Such illegal and unjust act of the respondents was CONTRARY TO MORAK, GOOSD
CUSTOMS AND PUBLIC POLICY.

They should therefore be held liable for MORAL DAMAGES jointly and severally.

This is also the mandate of Art. 2176 (in relation to Art. 2180) of the Civil Code on TORT AND
DAMAGES, or QUASI-DELICT or culpa ACQUILLANA (based on GROSS NEGLIGENCE amounting to
BAD FAITH AND MALICE).

ARTICLE 26 of the Civil Code provides that:

“Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind
of his neighbors and other persons. The following and similar acts, though they may not
constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action for damages, prevention
and other relief:

X x x.

(3) Intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends;

X x x.”

By committing the illegal act of UNJUST DISMISSAL of the worker X X X, the respondents violated his
DIGNITY, PERSONALITY, AND PEACE OF MIND. They cause UNNECESSARY AND WRONGFUL
INTRIGUES against his name, honor, and reputation as a worker and human being among his co-workers in
the company, especially among his subordinates who looked up to him with respect.

ARTICLE 32 of the Civil Code provides:

“Any public officer or employee, or any private individual, who directly or indirectly
obstructs, defeats, violates or in any manner impedes or impairs any of the following
rights and liberties of another person shall be liable to the latter for damages:

X x x.

(8) The right to the equal protection of the laws;

X x x.
(16) The right of the accused to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed
of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy and
public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process
to secure the attendance of witness in his behalf;

(17) Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against one's self, or from
being forced to confess guilt, or from being induced by a promise of immunity or
reward to make such confession, except when the person confessing becomes a
State witness;

X x x.
The indemnity shall include moral damages. Exemplary damages may also be
adjudicated.

X x x..”

The respondents, as private individuals (natural and juridical persons) intentionally violated the human
rights and liberties of X X X, i.e, his right to EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAWS, his right to be assisted
by counsel in an administrative proceeding, and the right to remain silent in any proceeding. The notice of
hearing issued to X X X did not contain a clear statement informing him of his right to counsel during the
administrative proceeding. The respondents were assisted by a battery of lawyers and inhouse HRD
personnel to investigate him. He was alone – worried, anxious, nervous, and ignorant of what to do on the
spot during the said proceeding because he was not informed of his right to counsel. He was induced to
speak out during the said proceeding without informing him of his right to remain silent. He was not allowed
to cross-examine the complainants and witnesses against him during such administrative proceeding. Not
even to be provided with copies of the complaints against him, or the minutes and transcripts of the
proceeding. X X X is not a lawyer and has no working legal skills or training.

Article 2229 of the Civil Code, on the other hand, provides for recovery of exemplary damages:

Art. 2229. Exemplary or corrective damages are imposed, by way of example or


correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or
compensatory damages.

The best way to punish natural and juridical respondents, such as the respondents in this case, is to
impose EXEMPLARY DAMAGES in order to serve as a lesson to society.

Otherwise, rich and powerful companies and management officers and executives, like the respondents
in this case, who selfishly and arrogantly think that they are gods and goddesses in their corporate and
feudal kingdoms and turfs, can easily, at anytime, violate with impunity and grave abuse and ill intent the
basic human rights, liberties, and dignity of their lowly workers, like X X X, who was ILEGALLY DISMISSED
by the respondents with full intent, knowledge and purpose to make him suffer based on unfounded, flimsy,
and unjustified grounds that they had wittingly or unwittingly manufactured or invented in their minds or that
they had intentionally and wrongfully misinterpreted and misjudged in their minds, resulting in grave and
irreparable loss and prejudice to X X X.
In the recent case of Aliling vs. Feliciano, et. al., G.R. No. 185829, April 25, 2012, it was held that “to
effect a legal dismissal, the employer must show not only a valid ground therefor, but also that procedural
due process has properly been observed”; that “when the Labor Code speaks of procedural due process,
the reference is usually to the two (2)-written notice rule envisaged in Section 2 (III), Rule XXIII, Book V of
the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code, which provides:

Section 2. Standard of due process: requirements of notice. — In all cases of


termination of employment, the following standards of due process shall be substantially
observed.

I. For termination of employment based on just causes as defined in Article 282 of the
Code:

(a) A written notice served on the employee specifying the ground or grounds for
termination, and giving to said employee reasonable opportunity within which to explain
his side;

(b) A hearing or conference during which the employee concerned, with the
assistance of counsel if the employee so desires, is given opportunity to respond
to the charge, present his evidence or rebut the evidence presented against him;
and

(c) A written notice [of] termination served on the employee indicating that upon due
consideration of all the circumstance, grounds have been established to justify his
termination.

In the recent case of SARONA vs. NLRC, et. al., G.R. No. 185280, January 18, 2012, it was held (a)
that moral damages may be recovered where the dismissal of the employee was tainted by bad faith or
fraud, or where it constituted an act oppressive to labor, and done in a manner contrary to morals,
good customs or public policy and (b) that exemplary damages are recoverable if the dismissal was
done in a wanton, oppressive, or malevolent manner.

Further, in the recent case of BRIGHT MARITIME CORPORATION (BMC)/DESIREE P. TENORIO vs.
RICARDO B. FANTONIAL, G.R. No. 165935, February 8, 2012, moral damages were awarded because
the employer’s act was “tainted with bad faith, considering that respondent’s Medical Certificate stated that
he was fit to work on the day of his scheduled departure, yet he was not allowed to leave allegedly for
medical reasons”. Further, in the said case, exemplary damages was also imposed on the employer “by
way of example or correction for the public good in view of petitioner’s act of preventing respondent from
being deployed on the ground that he was not yet declared fit to work on the date of his departure, despite
evidence to the contrary”. The Court added: “x x x. Exemplary damages are imposed not to enrich one party
or impoverish another, but to serve as a deterrent against or as a negative incentive to curb socially
deleterious actions.”

X x x.

I. RELIEF.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed that the appealed Decision be AFFIRMED
insofar as the finding of ILLEGAL DISMISSAL and the award of backwages, separation pay, terminal pay, and
attorney’s fees are concerned but MODIFIED as to impose on the respondents, jointly and severally, the duty to
pay complainant-appellant MORAL AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES at such amounts as the Honorable
Commission may find wise, fit, necessary, and justified by the evidence.

FURTHER, the complainant-appellant prays for such and other reliefs, as may be deemed just and equitable
in the premises.
Las Pinas City, June 18, 2012.