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L-49549 August 30, 1990

This would have been just another illegal dismissal case were it not for the controversial and unique situation that the marriage of herein petitioner, then a
classroom teacher, to her student who was fourteen (14) years her junior, was considered by the school authorities as sufficient basis for terminating her
The case was about an affair and marriage of 30 years old teacher Evelyn Chua in Tay Tung High School in Bacolod City to her 16 years old student. The
petitioner teacher was suspended without pay and was terminated of his employment “for Abusive and Unethical Conduct Unbecoming of a Dignified School
Teacher” which was filed by a public respondent as a clearance for termination.

Was her dismissal valid? Whether or not there is substantial evidence to prove that the antecedent facts which culminated in the marriage between petitioner
and her student constitute immorality and or grave misconduct?

The Supreme Court declared the dismissal illegal saying:
“Private respondent [the school] utterly failed to show that petitioner [30-year old lady teacher] took advantage of her position to court her student [16-year
old]. If the two eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has
reasons of its own which reason does not know. But, definitely, yielding to this gentle and universal emotion is not to be so casually equated with
immorality. The deviation of the circumstances of their marriage from the usual societal pattern cannot be considered as a defiance of contemporary social

Finding that there is no substantial evidence of the imputed immoral acts, it follows that the alleged violation of Code of Ethics governing school teachers
would have no basis. Private respondent utterly failed to show that petitioner took advantage of her position to court her student. The deviation of the
circumstances of their marriage from the usual societal pattern cannot be considered as a defiance of contemporary social mores.

Petitioner) was hired by St. Scholastica's College Westgrove (SSCW), a Catholic educational institution, as a non-teaching personnel, engaged in pre-marital sexual
relations, got pregnant out of wedlock... married the father of her child,... and was dismissed by SSCW, in that order.
petitioner and her boyfriend conceived a child out of wedlock. When SSCW learned of the petitioner's pregnancy, Sr. Edna Quiambao... advised her to file a
resignation letter effective June 1, 2003. In response, the petitioner... informed Sr. Quiambao that she would not resign from her employment just because she
got pregnant... without the benefit of marriage. Quiambao formally directed the petitioner to explain in writing why she should not be dismissed for engaging in
pre-marital sexual relations and getting pregnant as a result thereof, which amounts to serious misconduct and conduct unbecoming of an employee... of a
Catholic school.
In a letter[11] dated June 6, 2003, SSCW, through counsel, maintained that pre-marital sexual relations, even if between two consenting adults without legal
impediment to marry, is considered a disgraceful and immoral conduct or a serious misconduct, which... are grounds for the termination of employmen...
petitioner filed a complaint for illegal dismissal
Issues: whether pregnancy out of wedlock by an employee of a catholic educational institution is a cause for the termination of her employment.
The fact of the petitioner's pregnancy out of wedlock, without more, is not enough to characterize the petitioner's conduct as disgraceful or immoral.
There must be substantial evidence to establish that pre-marital sexual relations and, consequently,... pregnancy out of wedlock, are indeed considered
disgraceful or immoral. The totality of the circumstances... surrounding the conduct alleged to be... disgraceful or immoral must be assessed... against the
prevailing norms of conduct. Consideration of the totality of the circumstances surrounding the conduct; and second, an assessment of the said circumstances
vis-à-vis the... prevailing norms of conduct, i.e., what the society generally considers moral and respectable. The right of an employee to security of tenure is
protected by the Constitution. When the law refers to morality, it necessarily pertains to public and secular morality and not religious morality. Thus, the
proscription against "disgraceful or immoral conduct" under Section 94(e) of the 1992 MRPS, which is made as a cause for dismissal, must necessarily... refer to
public and secular morality.