Petitioner Gerardo C. Roxas was employed as bus driver by respondent Baliwag Transit Inc. (BTI) since March 24, 1998 and paid on commission basis. In 2012, the bus to which he was assigned was phased out pursuant to Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Resolution 2013-01. Consequently, he became a reliever for BTI’s other remaining buses and his work assignment was reduced from his regular three weeks work duty to only two weeks per month.
Aggrieved, petitioner filed on June 5, 2014 a complaint for constructive dismissal, non-payment of holiday pay, holiday premium, service incentive leave and 13th month pay, illegal suspension, moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees against BTI and its owner Joselito S. Tengco. He claimed he was constructively dismissed due to his reduced work assignment which consequently affected his pay and other benefits.
Is there merit to this claim?
In this case, while Roxas’ reduced work assignment did effectively result in the diminution of his pay and other benefits, the same did not amount to a clear act of discrimination, insensibility or disdain on the part of BTI so as to force him out of employment. This is because the reason for the said work reduction was due to the phaseout of BTI’s old buses as imposed by a government regulation, leading BTI to, in the exercise of its management prerogative, adjust the previous work assignments of its employees assigned to the affected buses. As pointed out by the Court of Appeals (CA), “the reduced work week which BTI implemented in 2012 was in relation to the government’s directive to remove from the roads, public utility vehicles which are 15 years old and above, for the safety of the riding public. The decision to phase out BTI’s old buses was therefore not done out of the company’s whims and caprices only but instead, a means on the part of BTI to cope with the downsizing of their business operation as a consequence of the strict implementation of LTFRB Resolution 2013-01.” As such, this exercise of BTI’s management prerogative appears to have been done in good faith, and hence, should be upheld.
In this relation, it must be pointed out that the records fail to show that Roxas was the only employee affected by the reduced work assignment scheme. In fact, as the LA observed, “the assignment was made to apply to all other employees.” Thus, in view of the foregoing, the Court holds that the CA did not gravely abuse its discretion in upholding the labor tribunals’ finding that Roxas was not constructively dismissed. (Gerardo C. Roxas vs. Baliwag Transit Inc., et al. G.R. 231859, Feb. 19, 2020).