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OIKONOMOS INT’L RESOURCES CORPORATION (FORMERLY HILTON CEBU RESORT AND

SPA) VS NAVAJA, JR., Dec. 07, 2015

Misconduct as an improper and wrongful conduct; the transgression of some established and
definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character and implies
wrongfuI intent and not mere error in judgment. It is settled that in order for misconduct to
be serious, it must be grave and aggravated in character and not merely trivial or
unimportant.

FACTS:

Oikonomos, then known as Hilton Cebu Resort and Spa, hired Navaja as a room attendant
who performed housekeeping and cleaning duties. Navaja found a white Nike jacket when
he checked Rm. 1202. Because he remembered he has another tasks to do, he forgot about
the jacket and was not able to surrender the same to Lost and Found Section later. Next shift
he was asked to explain a Q&A form concerning his whereabouts and later brought the
jacket to the Lost & Found Section. On the same day, he was served a memorandum
notifying him that he was being preventively suspended for suspicion of theft and that he
needs to explain in writing why he should not be dismissed and to attend the administrative
hearing as scheduled. Afterwards, he received the memorandum dismissing him from the
service after he was found guilty of theft and dishonesty. On the other hand, according to
the employer, the hotel received a call from a guest who just checked out, informing that
she left a Nike white jacket. The CCTV showed Navaja entered the room twice and acted
suspiciously when he came out the second time. An illegal dismissal was filed by Navaja
thereafter.

Oikonomos argues that it has established with substantial evidence that Navaja committed
serious misconduct under Article 282 (a) of the Labor Code; that Navaja had several
opportunities to report the missing white jacket but he knowingly failed to do so; that he
issued inconsistent statements regarding the missing jacket. Navaja argued that there was
no substantial evidence that he committed theft.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the dismissal of Navaja was based on a just cause of serious misconduct.

RULING:
Yes, serious misconduct was proven with substantial evidence, specifically theft, dishonesty
and violation of company policy.

The just causes for dismissing an employee are provided under Article 282 of the Labor Code.
In Article 282 (a), serious misconduct by the employee justifies the employer in terminating
his or her employment. The SC discussed further the definition of misconduct as an
improper and wrongful conduct; the transgression of some established and definite rule of
action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character and implies wrongfuI intent
and not mere error in judgment. It is settled that in order for misconduct to be serious, it
must be grave and aggravated in character and not merely trivial or unimportant.

First, it was undisputed that Navaja took the jacket from Room 1202 and from such time, he
performed certain acts to willfully conceal the same. It was strange that he put it at the back
of his pants. The CCTV footages would also show that he acted strangely outside the
elevator. Second, he had several opportunities to report the missing item to the
management. Third, he violated company policy regarding lost and found procedure. The
hotel required its employees to immediately report lost and found items to the security or
front office. He had several encounters with the security and front office before he belatedly
report the missing jacket. At the time he went home, he passed to the front office and on
the next day, security office called him to fill out a Q&A form and yet he remained silent.
Fourth, the Court is unable to agree with CA that there was no intent to take the jacket
because he did not bring it at home. The intent to dispose is not an integral element of theft
so it is of no moment that he failed to bring the item outside the premises.