Ten Agents and their TL sue Convergys
The complainants were hired as Customer Service Representatives on various dates starting from 2005 and most of them entered the employ of the company in 2012. They were then under Team Leader Daniel Clemente. As CSRs they performed their jobs without any derogatory record or anything of its nature. However, between February 2, 2013 and February 8, 2013, the above mentioned CSRs received Notices to Explain, their violation stipulated by the company’s Handbook on Employee Discipline E.2, “E. FRAUD, DISHONESTY AND SIMILAR ACTS PREJUDICIAL TO COMPANY INTEREST ARE SERIOUS OFFENSES – warranting their dismissal from employment, which includes: 2. intentionally manipulating any system, data and/or reports to improve metrics, performance ratings, earn incentives and/or to avoid work assignments xxx”; while their TL Daniel Clemente’s alleged violation falls under gross and habitual neglect of duty. And on the same day, all of the CSRs under Mr. Clemente except Michico Reyes were preventively suspended for 30 days.
In February 2013, a hearing was conducted by Convergys where complainants were investigated by the former’s committee on discipline. Then, between February 25 and March 5, 2013, complainants were given Notices, informing them of the termination of their employment.
Thus, believing they were illegally dismissed, complainants contend that the “misconduct” they allegedly committed was not proven to be wilful in character. Hence, such accusations were entirely misplaced and without any factual and legal basis as presented by the following facts:
(1.) Convergys’ system was designed to automatically pull up an account regardless if it is active or disconnected, once a call comes in;
(2.) At times the phone numbers are recycled, resulting to the automatic pull up of disconnected account by the system;
(3.) Complainants have no authority to erase any disconnected accounts;
(4.) Undoubtedly, Convergys is aware of the said operation being used throughout the production floor but complainants were never warned to stop such infractions and correct the same;
(5.) More importantly, the alleged manipulation of the system, data or report did not cause any damage to the company but on the contrary was beneficial. Convergys Baguio site improved its standing from 11th to 6th place among the top 12 CVG sites with the same Direct Account; and
(6.) Convergys did nothing to update/improve its system if they were in fact serious with their efforts and desire to avoid the said system errors.
In the case of Daniel Clemente in his (8) long years of service with the company, this was the first and only case that he was investigated. Therefore, he claims that his dismissal was too harsh under the circumstances.
In order to constitute a just cause for the employee’s dismissal, the neglect of duties must not only be gross but habitual. Thus, the single or isolated acts of negligence do not constitute a just cause for the dismissal of an employee.
Therefore, it is not sufficient that the act or conduct complained of has merely violated some established rules or policies. It is equally important and required that the act or conduct must have been performed with wrongful intent to constitute serious misconduct which will warrant the dismissal of an employee under paragraph (a), Article 282 of the Labor Code.
Against allegations advanced by complainants, Convergys vehemently maintain a contrary view, that there was a just and valid cause for their dismissal. The CSRs made it appear that they properly handled calls invoking numerous accounts when in truth they did not handle any of these accounts as these have long been terminated or disconnected. As evidenced, complainants were not able to refute the “staggering 2,352 disconnected accounts pulled up and falsified by them in barely one (1) month”.
First, there is no doubt that such act committed is an offense stipulated in the Company’s Handbook on Employee Discipline. Second, as a matter of fact, during the administrative hearings conducted by the company, complainants voluntarily admitted that indeed they committed such infractions, in direct violation of the rules and procedures of the company, if only to improve their “METRICS”, entitling them to cash incentives. Third, in the case of Daniel Clemente, even assuming for the sake of argument that he was not directly involved in any Metric Manipulation committed by the members of his team, he could not refute that he had clear knowledge of the conspiracy. Thus, his dismissal is justified on the ground of Gross Neglect of his Duties, as he failed miserably to avoid or correct the manipulation, being the leader of the team. Such act of Clemente is substantial enough for the company to lose its trust and confidence over him. Fourth, complainants were afforded the opportunity to be heard and they readily admitted that they committed the above infractions. Moreover, written notices of terminations were duly served upon complainants substantially rationalizing the causes therein.
Were the complainants illegally dismissed?
Are the complainants entitled to their money claims?
After thorough perusal of the facts and evidences, it was found unrefuted or uncontroverted that:
- The “misconduct” committed by complainants was serious and was a direct violation of the company’s Code of Conduct and Policies specifically “E” and number “2” therein;
- Complainants were fully aware of the existence of the aforecited rules; more so, their TL was working in Convergys for (8) eight long years;
- Complainants admitted during the administrative hearing their individual “misconduct”;
- Complainants repeatedly committed the infractions, evidencing wrongful intent to improve their metrics or performances to avail of company incentives;
- That the goodwill or image of the company as a call center was seriously jeopardized due to such repeated “misconducts” committed by the complainants;
- That their Team Leader Clemente could not refute his knowledge of such malpractices of the complainants (agents) under him, in fact infractions were repeated and which were done in the usual and ordinary course of a call center business he was tasked to supervise.
“For the misconduct to be serious within the meaning of the law must be of such grave and aggravated character and not merely trivial or unimportant. Such misconduct, however serious, must nevertheless, be in connection with the employee’s work to constitute just cause for his separation.”
Due to the repetitious acts of such complainants, it shows therefore, were wilful and aggravated in character; more importantly, the serious misconduct which complainants committed was no doubt connected with their jobs as Call Center agents.
Convergys also conducted immediately from the occurrence of the misconduct an investigation and a formal hearing to show how such misconduct will affect adversely the business or goodwill of the company.
In the case of Clemente, there is substantial basis likewise for Convergys to lose its trust and confidence in him as a Team Leader. He had repeatedly failed to check his employees’ misconduct thus, finding sufficient basis for Convergys to terminate his services on the above-cited ground.
Therefore, it is appropriate for Convergys to terminate the services of the complainants since the exercise of its prerogative was duly in accordance with both substantive and procedural requirements of the law.
WHEREFORE, premises all considered, judgement rendered DISMISSING the instant complaint for lack of merit.
This may or may not be controlling at the time of this writing.
Agent’s claim dismissed by NLRC