Agent’s claim of unawareness of the company policy, dismissed by NLRC
“Ignorance of the law does not excuse”
Razel O. Cabatuan believed she was dismissed without just cause which took effect in October 29, 2012. According to her, she and several other call center agents committed the same offenses. However, all the other agents except her were given a warning. Because of the foregoing Ms. Cabatuan filed a complaint against Teletech Customer Care Management Philippines Inc/ Mr. Axel Materne/ Ms. Elma Templo, for actual illegal dismissal; non-payment of 13th month pay, sick leave pay, vacation leave pay, and incentive bonus; moral and exemplary damages; and attorney’s fees.
Sometime on October 2012, several employees including her were charged for violation of the company policy on the Code of Conduct for using an incorrect code (LQ/LA) instead of the correct code (CS or M4) in processing mobile plan of a customer; thereby causing Teletech to charge them with the said violation of company policy which constitutes to fraud.
Ms. Cabatuan answered the committed infraction on how it’s something she was unaware of, claiming that she previously used the same code in processing change of plan for customers and that she was never told in the past that it constitutes violation of the company policy.
On the other hand, Teletech said that Ms. Cabatuan hired as Customer Service in March 11, 2012 was assigned to work for the account Telecom New Zealand; that among the services, one was change of mobile phone accounts from pre-paid to post-paid plans and vice versa. Ms. Cabatuan was to use a “CS” procedure to change plan details, “M4” procedure to add, remove or change mobile phone services, and use other procedures accordingly of which procedures could not be interchanged.
Sometime in September 2012 a customer of Telecom New Zealand complained about a disruption of her telecom services despite the fact that she merely requested for a change in plan details. Due to the complaint, Teletech conducted an audit procedures used by Ms. Cabatuan and discovered that she used the “LQ and “LA” procedures (which applies only to changing accounts from pre-paid to post-paid and vice versa, causing a four hour disconnection). Furthermore, it was discovered that Ms. Cabatuan, is to earn points for her scorecard from the procedures, as well as add points to her performance evaluation, and incentives. That from the investigation Ms. Cabatuan has been engaged in the said practice for 3 months from July to September, 2012.
Because of the fraudulent practice, a notice to explain was served. Ms. Cabatuan explained in her letter her admission to using the “LQ” and “LA” procedures because she thought that it was allowed to hit her target because everybody on the production floor has been doing the same thing. To give another opportunity to explain her side an administrative conference was held on October 26, 2012 and Ms. Cabatuan essentially reiterated her explanation on the said administrative hearing.
Under the Labor Code Art. 282, an employer may terminate an employment for any of the following causes:
- Serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or representative in connection with his work;
- Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties;
- Fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer o duly authorized representative;
- Commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representative;
- Other causes analogous to the foregoing.
In relation thereto, an employer in the exercise of its management prerogative may issue rules and regulations to administer its affairs.
“The employer cannot be compelled to continue the employment of a person who was found guilty of maliciously committing acts which are detrimental to his interests… Indeed, it will demoralize the rank and file if the undeserving, if not the undesirable, remain in the service. It may encourage him to do even worse and will render a mockery of the rules of discipline that employees are required to observe”.
Thereby, the office finds Ms. Cabatuan’s act erroneously using the “LQ” and “LA” procedures, instead of using the other procedures, which she admitted in her explanation, constituted to serious misconduct because despite being fully aware that the same was not the proper procedure, she still used the same, not just once or twice but (32) times as evidenced, in order to increase her points in the scorecard that would improve her performance and eventually entitle her to incentives, and because everybody was using the same.
In this case, which Ms. Cabatuan admitted to the company violation, involving fraud, it logically follows that she was justified to be dismissed on the grounds of loss of trust and confidence.
WHEREFORE, the judgement was rendered DISMISSING Ms. Cabatuan’s claim for illegal dismissal.
However, Teletech is ordered to release Ms. Cabatuan her proportionate 13th month pay, and accrued sick leave and vacation leaves upon surrender of the company issued belongings.
All other claims are dismissed for lack of merit.