Article 282 of the Labor Code states:
ART. 282. TERMINATION BY EMPLOYER. – An employer may terminate an employment for any of the following causes:
(a) Serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of his employer or representative in connection with his work;
(b) Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties;
(c) Fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative;
(d) Commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representative; and
(e) Other causes analogous to the foregoing.
Article 282(c) of the Labor Code prescribes two separate and distinct grounds for termination of employment, namely: (1) fraud or (2) willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative.
Settled is the rule that under Article 282(c), the breach of trust must be willful. Ordinary breach will not suffice. “A breach is willful if it is done intentionally and knowingly without any justifiable excuse, as distinguished from an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly or inadvertently.”
“As firmly entrenched in our jurisprudence, loss of trust and confidence as a just cause for termination of employment is premised on the fact that an employee concerned holds a position where greater trust is placed by management and from whom greater fidelity to duty is correspondingly expected.” “The betrayal of this trust is the essence of the offense for which an employee is penalized.”
Sanden has the burden of proof to prove its allegations.
“Unlike in other cases where the complainant has the burden of proof to [prove] its allegations, the burden of establishing facts as bases for an employer’s loss of confidence in an employee – facts which reasonably generate belief by the employer that the employee was connected with some misconduct and the nature of his participation therein is such as to render him unworthy of trust and confidence demanded of his position – is on the employer.”
While it is true that loss of trust and confidence is one of the just causes for termination, such loss of trust and confidence must, however, have some basis. Proof beyond reasonable doubt is not required. It is sufficient that there must only be some basis for such loss of confidence or that there is reasonable ground to believe if not to entertain the moral conviction that the concerned employee is responsible for the misconduct and that the nature of his participation therein rendered him absolutely unworthy of trust and confidence demanded by his position.
Sanden failed to discharge the burden of proof that the dismissal of Loressa is for a just cause.
The first requisite for dismissal on the ground of loss of trust and confidence is that the employee concerned must be holding a position of trust and confidence.
In this case, we agree that Loressa, who had immediate access to Sanden’s confidential files, papers and documents, held a position of trust and confidence as Coordinator and Data Custodian of the MIS Department.
“The second requisite is that there must be an act that would justify the loss of trust and confidence. Loss of trust and confidence, to be a valid cause for dismissal, must be based on a willful breach of trust and founded on clearly established facts. The basis for the dismissal must be clearly and convincingly established but proof beyond reasonable doubt is not necessary.”
Sanden’s evidence against Loressa fails to meet this standard.