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JOSE SONZA versus ABS-CBN BROADCASTING CORPORATION

Facts:
1.) In May 1994, ABS-CBN signed an agreement with the Mel and Jay
Management and Development Corporation (MJMDC).
2.) ABS-CBN was represented by its corporate officers, while MJMDC was
represented by Sonza, as President and general manager, and Tiangco, as its
EVP and treasurer.
3.) Referred to in the agreement as agent, MJMDC agreed to provide Sonzas
services exclusively to ABS-CBN, as talent for radio and television. ABS-CBN
agreed to pay Sonza, a monthly talent fee of 310,000 pesos, for the first year,
and 317,000 pesos, for the second and third year.
4.) On April 1996, Sonza wrote a letter to ABS-CBN, where he irrevocably
resigned in view of the recent events concerning his program and career.
5.) After the said letter, Sonza filed with the Department of Labor and
Employment, a complaint alleging that, ABS-CBN did not pay his salaries,
separation pay, service incentive pay, 13th month pay, signing bonus, travel
allowance, and amounts under the Employees Stock Option Plan (ESOP).
6.) ABS-CBN contended that, no employee-employer relationship existed
between the parties.
7.) However, ABS-CBN continued to remit Sonzas monthly talent fees, but
opened another account for the same purpose.
8.) The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint, and found that there is no
employee-employer relationship.
9.) NLRC affirmed the decision of the Labor Arbiter.
10.) CA also affirmed the decision of NLRC.
Issue:
Whether or not, there was employer-employee relationship between the parties.
Held:
1.) No. Case law has consistently held that, the elements of an employeeemployer relationship are, selection and engagement of the employee, the
payment of wages, the power of dismissal, and the employers power to
control the employee on the means and methods, by which the work is
accomplished.
2.) The last element, the so-called "control test", is the most important element.
3.) Sonzas services to cohost its television and radio programs, are because of
his peculiar talents, skills and celebrity status.
4.) Independent contractors, often present themselves to possess unique skills,
expertise or talent, to distinguish them from ordinary employees.
5.) The specific selection and hiring of SONZA, because of his unique skills, talent
and celebrity status not possessed by ordinary employees, is a circumstance
indicative, but not conclusive, of an independent contractual relationship.

6.) All the talent fees and benefits paid to SONZA, were the result of negotiations
that led to the Agreement.
7.) For violation of any provision of the Agreement, either party, may terminate
their relationship.
8.) Applying the control test to the present case, we find that SONZA is not an
employee but an independent contractor.
9.) The control test, is the most important test, our courts apply in distinguishing
an employee from an independent contractor.
10.)
This test is based on the extent of control the hirer exercises over a
worker. The greater the supervision and control the hirer exercises, the more
likely the worker is deemed an employee.
11.)
The converse holds true as well, the less control the hirer exercises,
the more likely the worker is considered an independent contractor.
12.)
To perform his work, SONZA only needed his skills and talent. How
SONZA delivered his lines, appeared on television, and sounded on radio,
were outside ABS-CBNs control.
13.)
ABS-CBN, did not instruct SONZA how to perform his job. ABS-CBN
merely reserved the right, to modify the program format and airtime schedule
"for more effective programming."
14.)
ABS-CBNs sole concern was the quality of the shows and their
standing in the ratings.
15.)
A radio broadcast specialist who, works under minimal supervision, is
an independent contractor.
16.)
Clearly, ABS-CBN, did not exercise control over, the means and
methods of performance of Sonzas work.
17.)
Sonzas work, as television and radio program host, required special
skills and talent, which SONZA admittedly possesses.
18.)
~end~