NLRC finds Senior Manager’s dismissal illegal and orders Accenture to pay more than ₱3.5M
In a Decision on June 17, 2013, an NCR Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of a Senior Manager against Accenture Inc. for illegal dismissal.
The complainant, Arthur C. Gloria, filed a complaint for illegal dismissal with prayer for payment of backwages, separation pay in lieu of reinstatement, moral and exemplary damages, including attorney’s fees.
He was a long-term employee of the respondents and was occupying the post of Senior Manager during the time of the dismissal of the complainant’s termination last 05 September 2012 for allegedly violating the Respondent’s policy against Sexual Harassment.
The incident allegedly occurred inside the complainant’s vehicle in the presence of other Accenture employee’s and complainant’s driver. As to the circumstances surrounding the same Complainant attended an event organized by Accenture employees. The complainant was set to leave the event when several Accenture co-employees requested a ride from the complainant on his way back to Manila.
The complainant was seated at the back. Beside him was seated Kerrie Guillermo; the individual who is the alleged recipient of the complainant’s unwarranted sexual advances while 2 other Accenture employees sat beside them.
5 days after, the complainant received a communication from Accenture’s Human Resource Manager informing the complainant that the management received a complaint from Kerrie Guillermo accusing Mr. Gloria of committing acts of sexual harassment during the ride home from the event. The complainant was directed to submit a written explanation.
The complainant submitted his affidavit categorically denying the commission of any sexual and/or unprofessional advances against Kerrie Guillermo. Further, the complainant submitted the affidavits of the other passengers who were with them during the alleged incident and they attested that nothing inappropriate occurred during the ride back to Manila. Respondents, thereafter, conducted hearings as regard to the incident and subsequently, dismissed the Complainant for violating Accenture’s policy against sexual harassment.
The complainant instituted the instant complaint for illegal dismissal seeking reinstatement or separation pay in lieu thereof, with claims of moral and exemplary damages.
The complainant posits that no cause exists to justify the dismissal effected by Accenture as the records of this case is supposedly bereft of any proof to establish, by substantial evidence, the acts of harassment imputed by the former. Further, the complainant asserts that the alleged incident if indeed true is not work-related and surely does not reflect on his fitness to continue his employment. The event that they attended was not an official Accenture function as the participant’s therein signed waivers clearly acknowledging that the event was not sponsored or sanctioned by Accenture.
Along with that, the complainant pointed out that Guillermo’s motive in accusing him of Sexual harassment was to appease the former’s jealous husband who once saw them on another event together.
The issues submitted for resolution are as follows;
- Are the respondents liable for illegal dismissal?
- Is the complainant entitled to his monetary demands?
As to the first issue, NLRC finds for the complainant. That Guillermo has no proof or any substantial evidence to support her claims of sexual harassment. According to Guillermo, the complainant’s purported harassment began when they were still inside the vehicle. As such, she could have sought help from the other passengers or asked to be let out off the car and she had the opportunity to leave the vehicle when the group dropped off a passenger but she curiously opted to stay inside the vehicle. These circumstances cast doubt in the veracity of Guillermo’s statements and corroborated the position advanced by the complainant that the action of Guillermo was to appease the lingering doubts of her husband.
The rationale of Sexual harassment in the workplace is that a person of authority demands a sexual favor from a subordinate in exchange for favorable working conditions, promotions or privileges or that the subordinate is subjected to an intimidating hostile, offensive working environment if the sexual favor is refused. These circumstances where are not present in this case.
“Consequently, this office (NLRC) resolves to declare Complainant’s dismissal as illegal, warranting the complainant’s immediate reinstatement. However, as it appears that the relationship of the parties in this case had already been strained, this office grants the complainant’s prayer for separation pay in lieu of reinstatement computed at one month for every year of service based on the complainant’s salary at the time of his termination with the payment of limited backwages computed from the time of the illegal dismissal up to the date of this decision.”
“Anent the claim for moral and exemplary damages, the same is unfounded for failure of the complainant to prove his dismissal was attended in bad faith. However, complainant having been compelled to litigate in order to seek redress for his wrongful termination, is entitled to the award of attorney’s fees equivalent to 10% of the total monetary award”
“Wherefore, in light of all the foregoing, judgement is hereby rendered declaring the dismissal of the complainant herein ILLEGAL. Respondent, ACCENTURE INC., is hereby ORDERED to pay Complainant’s separation pay in lieu of reinstatement computed at one month for every year of service based on the complainant’s salary at the time of the termination plus backwages in the total amount of Php 3,565,000.00 as well as 10% of the total monetary award as and for attorney’s fees.”