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DUMPIT-MURILLO v CA She then filed a complaint for illegal constructive dismissal, nonpayment of salaries,

G.R. No. 164652 / JUNE 8 2007 / QUISUMBING, J./ Control Test / LTLimbaring overtime pay, etc., moral, exemplary, actual damages, and attorneys fees.
NATURE Petition for review on Certiorari
PETITIONERS Thelma Dumpit-Murillo LA: dismissed the complaint
RESPONDENTS CA, Associated Broadcasting Company, Jose Javier and Edward Tan NLRC: Reversed LA. An ER-EE relationship existed between Dumpit-Murillo and ABC,
the Talent contract was void. Dumpit Murillo is an illegally dismissed regular employee so
SUMMARY. ABC hired Dumpit-Murillo as a newscaster under a fixed-term employment she is entitled to reinstatement and backwages, 13th month pay, etc, plus moral and
contract which was repeatedly renewed for 4 years. When her contract expired, she wrote a exemplary damages
letter expressing her interest in renewing the contact subject to a salary increase. When she CA: NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion. Dumpit-Murillo should not be allowed to
did not get a response, she sent a demand letter for reinstatement and recovery of wages and renege from stipulations she had knowingly and voluntarily executed by invoking security
other monetary benefits due to a regular employer. ABC agreed as to her unpaid talent fees of tenure.
but insisted that all of her other claims have no basis because she is not a regular employee o Dumpit-Murillo is a fixed-term employee and not a regular employee because her job
and was hired on a fixed term basis. was only for a specified time.
DOCTRINE. While fixed-term employment contracts may be valid, when circumstances
show that the periods were imposed to block the acquisition of security of tenure, they should ISSUES & RATIO.
be struck down for being contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public 1. [PROCEDURAL. You may skip.] WON SC can review the findings of CA. YES.
policy. ABC ARGUES: issues raised are factual and there is no showing that they have been
resolved arbitrarily and without basis. Findings of CA are supported by overwhelming
ELEMENTS TO DETERMINE ER-EE RELATIONSHIP (1) Selection and engagement of evidence on record as well as jurisprudence.
DUMPIT-MURILLO ARGUES: SC can review since CA erred in deciding a question of
the employee; (2) Payment of wages; (3) Power of dismissal (4) Employers power of control
substance which is not in accord with law or jurisprudence.
SC AGREES WITH DUMPIT-MURILLO!
SEE NOTES FOR PROVISIONS UNDER THE TALENT CONTRACT. o Decisions, of the Court of Appeals in any may be appealed to this Court through a
petition for review. This remedy is a continuation of the appellate process over the
FACTS. original case
Associated Broadcasting Company (ABC) hired Thelma Dumpit-Murillo under a Talent
Contract1 as a newscaster and co-anchor of Balitang-Balita, an early evening news program o Considering that the NLRC and CA disagree on the status of Dumpit-Murillos status
o The contract was repeatedly for 4 years. of employment, SC can review findings of fact by the CA.
o In addition, Dumpit-Murillo was engaged for the program Live on Five
2. WON CA erred in its decision. YES!
After 4 years of repeated renewals, Dumpit-Murillos contract expired.
ABC ARGUES: CA did not err in upholding the validity of the talent contracts entered by
o 2 weeks after the expiration, she wrote a letter to Mr. Javier, VP for News and Public Dumpit-Murillo.
Affairs of ABC, that she was still interested in renewing her contract subject to a o Prevailing jurisprudence recognized the absence of ER-EE relationship between a
salary increase.
o Thereafter, she stopped reporting for work talent and the media entity which engaged talents services on a per talent contract
She wrote another letter2 to Mr. Javier saying that if she would not receive any formal basis (Sonza v ABS-CBN)
response, she will deem it as a constructive dismissal. DUMPIT MURILLO ARGUES: ER-EE relationship was created when ABC started to
A month later, she sent a demand letter to ABC for (a) reinstatement to her former position; merely renew the contracts repeatedly 15 times or for 4 consecutive years.
(b) payment of unpaid wages for services rendered from Sept 1 October 20, 1999, 13th SC agrees with Dumpit-Murillo!
month pay, vacation/sick leave incentives, other monetary benefits due to a regular
employee starting March 31, 1996. The practice of having fixed-term contracts in the industry does not automatically make all
o ABC replied that a check covering Dumpit-Murillos talent fees for September 16 to talent contracts valid and compliant with labor law. The assertion that a talent contract
October 20, 1999 had been processed and prepared, but that the other claims of exists does not necessarily prevent a regular employment status.
petitioner had no basis in fact or in law. Sonza case is NOT applicable!
o In Sonza, television station did not instruct Sonza how to perform his job how he
delivered his lines, appeared on television, and sounded on radio were outside the
television stations control. He had a free hand on what to say or discuss in his shows
1See notes for full contract text. provided he did not attack the television station or its interests. HENCE, THERE IS
2 NO CONTROL OVER THE MEANS AND METHODS OF THE PERFORMANCE
Dear Mr. Javier: On October 20, 1999, I wrote you a letter in answer to your query by way of a marginal
note what terms and conditions in response to my first letter dated October 13, 1999. To date, or for OF SONAZAS WORK
more than fifteen (15) days since then, I have not received any formal written reply. x x x In view hereof,
should I not receive any formal response from you until Monday, November 8, 1999, I will deem it as a
constructive dismissal of my services.
o In Dumpit-Murillos case ABC HAD CONTROL OVER HER PERFORMANCE OF appear that the employer and the employee dealt with each other on more or less
equal terms with no moral dominance being exercised by the employer.
WORK. She also has a comparatively low pay of P28K monthly salary compared to
o Also, fixed-term employment will not be considered valid where, it is apparent that
Sonzas P300K monthly salary. periods have been imposed to preclude acquisition of tenurial security by the
employee.
ELEMENTS TO DETERMINE ER-EE RELATIONSHIP Here, it does not appear that ABC and Dumpit-Murillo dealt with each other on equal terms.
1. Selection and engagement of the employee; Understandable, Dumpit-Murillo could not object to the terms of her employment because
2. Payment of wages; she did not want to lose the job she loved and the workplace she had grown accustomed to.
3. Power of dismissal Moreover, ABCs practice of repeatedly extending petitioners 3- month contract for four
4. Employers power of control years is a circumvention of the acquisition of regular status. Hence, there was no valid
The most important element is the employers control of the employees conduct, not only fixed-term employment between ABC and Dumpit-Murillo.
as to the result of the work to be done, but also as to the means and methods to accomplish o While fixed-term employment contracts may be valid, when circumstances show that
it. the periods were imposed to block the acquisition of security of tenure, they should be
AS APPLIED: Duties of the petitioner as enumerated in her employment contract indicate struck down for being contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public
that ABC has control over her work. ABC also dictated the work assignments and payment policy.
of petitioners wages. ABC also had the power to dismiss her. Hence, there exists ER-EE
CONCLUSION: As a regular employee, Dumpit-Murillo is entitled to security of tenure
relationship and can be dismissed only for just cause and after due compliance with procedural due
process. Since ABC did not observe due process in constructively dismissing the petitioner,
2 KINDS OF REGULAR EMPLOYEES there was an illegal dismissal.
1. Those who are engaged to perform activities which are usually necessary or
desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer; and
DECISION.
2. those who have rendered at least one year of service, whether continuous or broken, CA is REVERSED. NLRC decision is AFFIRMED/
with respect to the activity in which they are employed
In other words, regular status arises from either (a) the nature of the work of the employee NOTES.
or (b) the duration of his employment.
Benares v Pancho: the primary standard for determining regular employment is the Dumpit-Murillos Talent Contract with ABC.
reasonable connection between the particular activity performed by the employee vis--vis x x x x SCOPE OF SERVICESTALENT agrees to devote his/her talent, time, attention
the usual trade or business of the employer. This connection can be determined by and best efforts in the performance of his/her duties and responsibilities as Anchor/Program
considering the nature of the work performed and its relation to the scheme of the particular Host/Newscaster of the Program, in accordance with the direction of ABC and/or its
business or trade in its entirety. If the employee has been performing the job for at least a authorized representatives.
year, even if the performance is not continuous and merely intermittent, the law deems
repeated and continuing need for its performance as sufficient evidence of the necessity if DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIESTALENT shall:
not indispensability of that activity to the business. Hence, the employment is considered (a) Render his/her services as a newscaster on the Program;
regular, but only with respect to such activity and while such activity exists. (b) Be involved in news-gathering operations by conducting interviews on- and off-the-air;
(c) Participate in live remote coverages when called upon;
The requisites for regularity of employment has been met in Dumpit-Murillos case
(d) Be available for any other news assignment, such as writing, research or camera work;
o From the scope of services under the talent contract, her work was necessary or (e) Attend production meetings;
desirable in the usual business of trade of the employer which in which includes, as a (f) On assigned days, be at the studios at least one (1) hour before the live telecasts;
precondition for its enfranchisement, its participation in the governments news and (g) Be present promptly at the studios and/or other place of assignment at the time designated
public information dissemination. by ABC;
o In addition, her work was continuous for a period of four years. This repeated (h) Keep abreast of the news;
engagement under contract of hire is indicative of the necessity and desirability of the (i) Give his/her full cooperation to ABC and its duly authorized representatives in the
petitioners work in private respondent ABCs business. production and promotion of the Program; and
(j) Perform such other functions as may be assigned to him/her from time to time.
CAs contention that the contract was characterized by a valid fixed-period employment is
untenable. xxxx
o For such contract to be valid, it should be shown that the fixed period was knowingly
and voluntarily agreed upon by the parties. There should have been no force, duress COMPLIANCE WITH STANDARDS, INSTRUCTIONS AND OTHER RULES AND
or improper pressure brought to bear upon the employee; neither should there be any REGULATIONSTALENT agrees that he/she will promptly and faithfully comply with the
other circumstance that vitiates the employees consent. It should satisfactorily
requests and instructions, as well as the program standards, policies, rules and regulations of
ABC, the KBP and the government or any of its agencies and instrumentalities. x x x x