(02) 8477 5798 / 0948-961-2397

LBC Express-Vis, Inc. vs. Palco

The case of LBC Express-Vis, Inc. vs. Palco, G.R. No. 217101, reminds that an employee is considered constructively dismissed if he or she was sexually harassed by her superior and her employer failed to act on his or her complaint with prompt and sensitivity.

Monica C. Palco started working for LBC Express-Vis Inc. on January 16, 2009 as a customer associate in its Gaisano Danao Branch. Her immediate superior, Arturo A. Batucan, then started to flirt with and sexually harass her. The final straw, however, was when Batucan sneaked in on Palco while she was working, held her on her hips and attempted to kiss her lips. While she shielded herself on his first attempt, he managed to kiss her lips on his second. 

Bothered by the incident, she reported the incident to the LBC Head Office in Lapu Lapu City. When management did not immediately act on her complaint, Palco resigned. She asserted that she was forced to quit since she no longer felt safe at work. She then filed a Complaint for Illegal Dismissal against the company and a Complaint for sexual harassment before the Danao City Prosecutor’s Office. 

The Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of Palco.  The National Labor Relations Commission affirmed with modification but reduced the amount of moral damages to P50,000.00. This decision was also upheld by the Court of Appeals. 

LBC then filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari with the Supreme Court, arguing that it should not be held liable for constructive dismissal. It pointed out that it did not know of, participate, or consent to Batucan’s acts towards Palco and only learned of his acts after Palco reported it. It also asserted that four months was not an unreasonable period to resolve a sexual harassment complaint. 

Palco maintained that she was constructively dismissed. Constructive dismissal is a situation that occurs when an employee is forced to leave or quit his or her job due to the employer creating a hostile working environment. The resignation was not voluntary but was instead done to protect the employer, effectively making it a termination.

If an employee wishes to assert that his or her resignation is a constructive dismissal, he or she will have to show how the employer created a hostile working environment for him or her. One of the ways a hostile working environment can be created is through the sexual harassment of an employee. 

Batucan held a high position in the company and was Palco’s immediate supervisor when he sexually harassed her. Thus, he represented the company when he created a hostile working environment for Palco. Although the company cannot be solely held liable for Batucan’s actions, R.A. 7877, otherwise known as the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act, states that if the employer was informed of the acts of its managerial staff and does not contest or question it, it is deemed to have authorized or be complicit to the acts of its erring employee.

Palco contends that LBC was insensible and acted in bad faith in failing to immediately act on her complaint. It took management four months and three weeks to resolve the matter, when a constructive dismissal case had already been filed. 

As a result, the petition was DENIED by the Supreme Court. Monica C. Palco is found to have been constructively dismissed. LBC Express-Vis, Inc., is hereby adjudged liable to Monica C. Palco for separation pay, backwages, moral damages, exemplary damages, and attorney’s fees, as awarded by the National Labor Relations Commission in its Decision dated May 31, 2012.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *