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ATLAS FARMS VS NLRC

FACTS: Two employees of Atlas Farms, Inc. (Atlas), Jaime O. Dela Pea and
Marcial I. Abion, each filed a complaint for illegal dismissal. Dela Pea, a former
veterinary aide and feedmill operator of Atlas, was dismissed for refusing to comply
with the farm manager after Dela Pea was allegedly caught urinating and
defecating on Atlas property not intended for the purpose; while Abion,
carpenter/mason and maintenance man, was dismissed also for not complying with
orders after having clogged fishpond drainage. [they failed to explain their reasons]
Labor arbiter dismissed their complaints on the ground that the grievance machinery
in the CBA had not yet been exhausted. They then availed of the grievance process,
but later on re-filed the case before the NLRC, and alleged "lack of sympathy" on
Atlass part to engage in conciliation proceedings.
Atlas filed a motion to dismiss, on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, alleging Dela
Pea and Abion themselves admitted that they were members of the employees
union with which Atlas had an existing CBA with. According to Atlas, jurisdiction over
the case belonged to the grievance machinery and thereafter the voluntary arbitrator,
as provided in the CBA.
LA dismissed the complaint for lack of merit, finding that the case was one of illegal
dismissal and did not involve the interpretation or implementation of any CBA
provision. He stated that Article 217(c) [224] of LCP was inapplicable to the case.
NLRC reversed the labor arbiters decision.
Atlas went to the CA by way of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 65,
seeking reinstatement of the labor arbiters decision; but such was denied.

ISSUE: W/N the two employees were illegally dismissed.


W/N LA and NLRC has jurisdiction over the cases.
HELD: Court ruled in favor of the respondents, affirming CAs decision.
1. Yes. The burden of proving that the dismissal of Dela Pea and Abion was
legal and valid falls upon Atlas. Atlas failed to substantiate its claim that both
Dela Pea and Abion violated Atlas rules and regulations; hence, there is no
factual basis to say that their dismissal was in order. Court saw no compelling
reason to deviate from NLRC ruling finding the dismissals illegal, absent a
showing that it reached its conclusion arbitrarily.
2. Yes, there was no error in upholding the jurisdiction of LA and NLRC. Art 217
(224) of LCP provides that labor arbiters have original and exclusive
jurisdiction over termination disputes. A possible exception is provided in
Article 261 (274), wherein cases involve unresolved grievances arising from
the interpretation or implementation of the CBA and those arising from the
interpretation or enforcement of Atlas personnel policies.
Pursuant to Art 260 (273) of LCP, the parties to a CBA shall name or
designate their respective representatives to the grievance machinery and if
the grievance is unsettled in that level, it shall automatically be referred to the
voluntary arbitrators designated in advance by the parties to a CBA.
Consequently only disputes involving the union and Atlas shall be referred to
the grievance machinery or voluntary arbitrators. In these termination cases,
the union had no participation, it having failed to object to the dismissal of the
employees concerned by the petitioner. It is obvious that arbitration
without the unions active participation on behalf of the dismissed
employees would be pointless, or even prejudicial to their cause.