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   ANG LADLAD VS. COMELEC   Facts : Petitioner is a national organization which represents the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and trans-genders. It filed a petition for accreditation as a party-list organization to public respondent. However, due to moral grounds, the latter denied the said petition. To buttress their denial, COMELEC cited certain biblical and quranic passages in their decision. It also stated that since their ways are immoral and contrary to public policy, they are considered nuissance. In fact, their acts are even punishable under the Revised Penal Code in its Article 201.  A motion for reconsideration being denied, Petitioner filed this instant Petition on Certiorari under Rule 65 of the ROC.  Ang Ladlad argued that the denial of accreditation, insofar as it  justified the exclusion by using religious dogma, violated the constitutional guarantees against the establishment of religion. Petitioner also claimed that the Assailed Resolutions contravened its constitutional rights to privacy, freedom of speech and assembly, and equal protection of laws, as well as constituted violations of the Philippines’ international obligations against discrimination based on sexual orientation. In its Comment, the COMELEC reiterated that petitioner does not have a concrete and genuine national political agenda to benefit the nation and that the petition was validly dismissed on moral grounds. It also argued for the first time that the LGBT sector is not among the sectors enumerated by the Constitution and RA 7941, and that petitioner made untruthful statements in its petition when it alleged its national existence contrary to actual verification reports by COMELEC’s field personnel.   Issue : WON Respondent violated the Non-establishment clause of the Constitution; WON Respondent erred in denying Petitioners application on moral and legal grounds. Held : Respondent mistakenly opines that our ruling in Ang Bagong Bayani stands for the proposition that only those sectors specifically enumerated in the law or related to said sectors (labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals) may be registered under the party-list system. As we explicitly ruled in Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Commission on El ections, “the enumeration of marginalized and under-represented sectors is not exclusive”. The crucial element is not whether a sector is specifically enumerated, but whether a particular organization complies with the requirements of the Constitution and RA 7941. Our Constitution provides in Article III, Section 5 that “[n]o law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” At bottom, what our non - establishment clause calls for is “government neutrality i n religious matters.” Clearly, “governmental reliance on religious  justification is inconsistent with this policy of neutrality.” We thus find that it was grave violation of the non-establishment clause for the COMELEC to utilize the Bible and the Koran to  justify the exclusion of Ang Ladlad. Be it noted that government action must have a secular purpose. Respondent has failed to explain what societal ills are sought to be prevented, or why special protection is required for the youth. Neither has the COMELEC condescended to justify its position that petitioner’s admission into the party -list system would be so harmful as to irreparably damage the moral fabric of society. We also find the COMELEC’s reference to purported violations of our penal and civil laws flimsy, at best; disingenuous, at worst.  Article 694 of the Civil Code defines a nuisance as “any act, omission, establishment, condition of property, or anything else which shocks, defies, or disregards decency or morality,” the remedies for which are a prosecution under the Revised Penal Code or any local ordinance, a civil action, or abatement without  judicial proceedings. A violation of Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, on the other hand, requires proof beyond reasonable doubt to support a criminal conviction. It hardly needs to be emphasized that mere allegation of violation of laws is not proof, and a mere blanket invocation of public morals cannot replace the institution of civil or criminal proceedings and a judicial determination of liability or culpability.  As such, we hold that moral disapproval, without more, is not a sufficient governmental interest to justify exclusion of homosexuals from participation in the party-list system. The denial of Ang Ladlad’s registration on purely moral groun ds amounts more to a statement of dislike and disapproval of homosexuals, rather than a tool to further any substantial public interest. DUNCAN ASSOCIATION OF DETAILMAN-PTGWO and PEDRO A. TECSON,  petitioners, vs. GLAXO WELLCOME PHILIPPINES, INC.,  Respondent. FACTS:  Petitioner Pedro A. Tecson (Tecson) was hired by respondent Glaxo Wellcome Philippines, Inc. (Glaxo) as medical representative on October 24, 1995, after Tecson had undergone training and orientation. Thereafter, Tecson signed a contract of employment which stipulates, among others, that he agrees to study and abide by existing company rules; to disclose to management any existing or future relationship by consanguinity or affinity with co-employees or employees of competing drug companies and should management find that such relationship poses a possible conflict of interest, to resign from the company. Code of Conduct of Glaxo similarly provides these conditions; that otherwise, the management and the employee will explore the possibility of a “ transfer to another department in a non- counterchecking position” or preparation for employment outside the company after six months. Tecson was initially assigned to market Glaxo’s products in the Camarines Sur-Camarines Norte sales area. Subsequently, Tecson entered into a romantic relationship with Bettsy, an employee of Astra Pharmaceuticals3(Astra), a competitor of Glaxo. Bettsy was Astra’s Branch Coordinator in Albay. She supervised the district managers and medical representatives of her company and prepared marketing strategies for Astra in that area. Even before they got married, Tecson received several reminders from his District Manager regarding the conflict of interest which his relationship with Bettsy might engender. Still, love prevailed , and Tecson married Bettsy in September 1998. Tecson’s superior reminded him that he and Bettsy should decide which one of them would resign from their jobs. Tecson requested for time to comply with the company policy against entering into a relationship with an employee of a competitor company. He explained that Astra, Bettsy’s employer, was planning to merge with Zeneca, another drug company; and Bettsy was planning to avail of the redundancy package to be offered by Astra. Tecson again requested for more time resolve the problem. Thereafter, Tecson applied for a transfer in Glaxo’s milk division,  thinking that since Astra did not have a milk division, the potential conflict of interest would be eliminated. His application was denied in view of Glaxo’s “least -movement- possible” policy.  Glaxo transferred Tecson to the Butuan City-Surigao City-Agusan del Sur sales area. Tecson asked Glaxo to reconsider its decision, but his request was denied. Tecson defied the transfer order and continued acting as medical representative in the Camarines Sur-Camarines Norte sales area. DEVELOPMENT OF THE CASE: Because the parties failed to resolve the issue at the grievance machinery level, they submitted the matter for voluntary arbitration, but Tecson declined the offer. On November 15, 2000, the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) rendered its Decision    declaring as valid Glaxo’s policy on relationships between its employees and persons employed with competitor companies, and affirming Glaxo’s right to transfer Tecs on to another sales territory. CA sustained; MR denied. Petitioner’s Contention:   that Glaxo’s policy against employees marrying employees of competitor companies violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution because it creates invalid distinctions among employees on account only of marriage. They claim that the policy restricts the employees’ right to marry; that Tecson was constructively dismissed GLAXO argues: that the company policy prohibiting its employees from having a relationship with and/or marrying an employee of a competitor company is a valid exercise of its management prerogatives and does not violate the equal protection clause; The policy is also aimed at preventing a competitor company from gaining access to its secrets, procedures and policies; that Tecson can no longer question the assailed company policy because when he signed his contract of employment, he was aware that such policy was stipulated therein. ISSUE:   WON Glaxo’s policy against its employees marrying employees from competitor companies is valid HELD:  The Court finds no merit in the petition. Glaxo has a right to guard its trade secrets, manufacturing formulas, marketing strategies and other confidential programs and information from competitors, especially so that it and Astra are rival companies in the highly competitive pharmaceutical industry. The prohibition against personal or marital relationships with employees of competitor companies upon Glaxo’s employees is reasonable under the circumstances because relationships of that nature might compromise the interests of the company. In laying down the assailed company policy, Glaxo only aims to protect its interests against the possibility that a competitor company will gain access to its secrets and procedures. That Glaxo possesses the right to protect its economic interests cannot be denied. No less than the Constitution recognizes the right of enterprises to adopt and enforce such a policy to protect its right to reasonable returns on investments and to expansion and growth. Indeed, while our laws endeavor to give life to the constitutional policy on social justice and the protection of labor, it does not mean that every labor dispute will be decided in favor of the workers. The law also recognizes that management has rights which are also entitled to respect and enforcement in the interest of fair play.21 EQUAL-PROTECTION: Glaxo does not impose an absolute prohibition against relationships between its employees and those of competitor companies. Its employees are free to cultivate relationships with and marry persons of their own choosing. What the company merely seeks to avoid is a conflict of interest between the employee and the company that may arise out of such relationships. Moreover, records show that Glaxo gave Tecson several chances to eliminate the conflict of interest brought about by his relationship with Bettsy. PETITION DENIED.   ______________ Other Issue on Constructive dismissal: The Court finds no merit in petitioners’ contention that Tescon was constructively dismissed when he was transferred from the Camarines Norte-Camarines Sur sales area to the Butuan City-Surigao City-Agusan del Sur sales area, and when he was excluded from attending the company’s seminar on new products which were directly competing with similar products manufactured by Astra. Constructive dismissal is defined as a quitting, an involuntary resignation resorted to when continued employment becomes impossible, unreasonable, or unlikely; when there is a demotion in rank or diminution in pay; or when a clear discrimination, insensibility or disdain by an employer becomes unbearable to the employee.30 None of these conditions are present in the instant case. Star Paper Corp., vs Simbol (2006) G.R. 164774 Facts: Star Paper Corporation employed Ronaldo Simbol on Oct 1993. He met Alma Dayrit, also an employee of the company, whom he married. Before marriage, Josephine Ongsitco the manager advised the couple that one of them must resign if they decided to get married pursuant to a company policy to which Simbol complied. On February 5, 1997 Comia was hired by the company. She met Howard Comia, a co-employee, whom she married on June 1, 2000. Ongsitco likewise reminded them the company policy, Comia resigned on June 30, 2000.Estrella was also hired on July 29, 1994. She met Luisito Zuñiga also a co-worker. Petitioners stated that Zuñiga, a married man, got Estrella pregnant. The company allegedly could have terminated her services due to immorality but she opted to resign on December 21, 1999. Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint and states that the company policy was decreed pursuant to what the respondent corporation perceived as management prerogative. On appeal to the NLRC, the Commission affirmed the decision of the Labor  Arbiter. In its assailed Decision dated August 3, 2004, the Court of Appeals reversed the NLRC decision. Issue: Whether or not the questioned policy violates the rights of the employee under the Constitution and the Labor Code? Held: The Court ruled on the side of the respondents.  Article 136 of the Labor Code which provides: It shall be unlawful for an employer to require as a condition of employment or continuation of employment that a woman employee shall not get married, or to stipulate expressly or tacitly that upon getting married a woman employee shall be deemed resigned or separated, or to actually dismiss, discharge, discriminate or otherwise prejudice a woman employee merely by reason of her marriage.  It is significant to note that respondents were hired after they were found fit for the job, but were asked to resign when they married a co-employee. Petitioners failed to show how the marriage of Simbol to Alma Dayrit could be detrimental to its business operations. It must be reasonable under the circumstances to qualify as a valid exercise of management prerogative. The questioned policy may not facially violate Article 136 of the Labor Code but it creates a disproportionate effect. The failure of petitioners to prove a legitimate business concern in imposing the questioned policy cannot prejudice the employee’s right to be free from arbitrary discrimination based upon stereotypes of married persons working together in one company.  ARMANDO G. YRASUEGUI, petitioners, vs. PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC., respondents. G.R. No. 168081, October 17, 2008 (569 SCRA 467) FACTS: THIS case portrays the peculiar story of an international flight steward who was dismissed because of his failure to adhere to the weight standards of the airline company. The proper weight for a man of his height and body structure is from 147 to 166 pounds, the ideal weight being 166 pounds, as mandated by the Cabin and Crew Administration Manual of PAL. In 1984, the weight problem started, which prompted PAL to send him to an extended vacation until November 1985. He was allowed to return to work once he lost all the excess weight. But the problem recurred. He again went on leave without pay from October 17, 1988 to February 1989. Despite the lapse of a ninety-day period given him to reach his ideal weight, petitioner remained overweight. On January 3, 1990, he was informed of the PAL decision for him to remain grounded until such time that he satisfactorily complies with the weight standards. Again, he was directed to report every two weeks for weight checks, which he failed to comply with. On April 17, 1990, petitioner was formally warned that a repeated refusal to report for weight check would be dealt with accordingly. He was given another set of weight check dates, which he did not report to. On November 13, 1992, PAL finally served petitioner a Notice of  Administrative Charge for violation of company standards on weight requirements. Petitioner insists that he is being discriminated as those similarly situated were not treated the same. On June 15, 1993, petitioner was formally informed by PAL that due to his inability to attain his ideal weight, “and considering the utmost leniency” extended to him “which spanned a period covering a total of almost five (5) years,” his services were considered te rminated “effective immediately.”   LABOR ARBITER: held that the weight standards of PAL are reasonable in view of the nature of the job of petitioner. However, the weight standards need not be complied with under pain of dismissal since his weight did not hamper the performance of his duties. NLRC affirmed. CA: the weight standards of PAL are reasonable. Thus, petitioner was legally dismissed because he repeatedly failed to meet the prescribed weight standards. It is obvious that the issue of discrimination was only invoked by petitioner for purposes of escaping the result of his dismissal for being overweight. ISSUE: WON he was validly dismissed. HELD: YES  A reading of the weight standards of PAL would lead to no other conclusion than that they constitute a continuing qualification of an employee in order to keep the job. The dismissal of the employee would thus fall under Article 282(e) of the Labor Code. In the case at bar, the evidence on record militates against petitioner’s claims that obesity is a disea se. That he was able to reduce his weight from 1984 to 1992 clearly shows that it is possible for him to lose weight given the proper attitude, determination, and self-discipline. Indeed, during the clarificatory hearing on December 8, 1992, petitioner himself claimed that “[t]he issue is could I bring my weight down to ideal weight which is 172, then the answer is yes. I can do it now.”   Petitioner has only himself to blame. He could have easily availed the assistance of the company physician, per the advice of PAL. In fine, We hold that the obesity of petitioner, when placed in the context of his work as flight attendant, becomes an analogous cause under Article 282(e) of the Labor Code that  justifies his dismissal from the service. His obesity may not be unintended, but is nonetheless voluntary. As the CA correctly puts it, “[v]oluntariness basically means that the just cause is solely attributable to the employee without any external force influencing or controlling his actions. This element runs through all just causes under Article 282, whether they be in the nature of a wrongful action or omission. Gross and habitual neglect, a recognized just cause, is considered voluntary although it lacks the element of intent found in Article 282(a), (c), and (d).”   NOTES: The dismissal of petitioner can be predicated on the bona fide occupational qualification defense. Employment in particular jobs may not be limited to persons of a particular sex, religion, or national srcin unless the employer can show that sex, religion, or national srcin is an actual qualification for performing the  job. The qualification is called a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). In short, the test of reasonableness of the company policy is used because it is parallel to BFOQ. BFOQ is valid “provided it reflects an inherent quality reasonably necessary for satisfactory job performance.”   The business of PAL is air transportation. As such, it has committed itself to safely transport its passengers. In order to achieve this, it must necessarily rely on its employees, most particularly the cabin flight deck crew who are on board the aircraft. The weight standards of PAL should be viewed as imposing strict norms of discipline upon its employees. The primary objective of PAL in the imposition of the weight standards for cabin crew is flight safety. Separation pay, however, should be awarded in favor of the employee as an act of social justice or based on equity. This is so because his dismissal is not for serious misconduct. Neither is it reflective of his moral character.  VERSION 2: Issue: Was the dismissal valid? Held: SC upheld the legality of dismissal. Separation pay, however, should be awarded in favor of the employee as an act of social justice or based on equity. This is so because his dismissal is not for serious misconduct. Neither is it reflective of his moral character.  The obesity of petitioner, when placed in the context of his work as flight attendant, becomes an analogous cause under Article 282(e) of the Labor Code. His obesity may not be unintended, but is nonetheless voluntary . “[V]oluntariness basically  means that the just cause is solely attributable to the employee without any external force influencing or controlling his actions. This element runs through all just causes under Article 282, whether they be in the nature of a wrongful action or omission. Gross and habitual neglect, a recognized just cause, is considered voluntary although it lacks the element of intent found in Article 282(a), (c), and (d).”   Employment in particular jobs may not be limited to persons of a particular sex, religion, or national srcin unless the employer can show that sex, religion, or national srcin is an actual qualification for performing the job. Bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) The Constitution, the Labor Code, and RA No. 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons contain provisions similar to BFOQ.  Argument that BFOQ is a statutory defense must fail Meiorin Test (US jurisprudence) in determining whether an employment policy is justified: (1) the employer must show that it adopted the standard for a purpose rationally connected to the performance of the job; 2) the employer must establish that the standard is reasonably necessary to the accomplishment of that work-related purpose; and (3) the employer must establish that the standard is reasonably necessary in order to accomplish the legitimate work-related purpose. In Star Paper Corporation v. Simbol  , this Court held that in order to justify a BFOQ, the employer must prove: (1) the employment qualification is reasonably related to the essential operation of the job involved; and (2) that there is factual basis for believing that all or substantially all persons meeting the qualification would be unable to properly perform the duties of the job. In short, the test of reasonableness of the company policy is used because it is parallel to BFOQ. BFOQ is valid “provided it reflects an inherent quality reasonably necessary for satisfactory  job performance.” The weight standards of PAL are reasonable. A common carrier, from the nature of its business and for reasons of public policy, is bound to observe extraordinary diligence for the safety of the passengers it transports. The primary objective of PAL in the imposition of the weight standards for cabin crew is flight safety. It cannot be gainsaid that cabin attendants must maintain agility at all times in order to inspire passenger confidence on their ability to care for the passengers when something goes wrong. Exceptionally, separation pay is granted to a legally dismissed employee as an act “social justice,” or based on “equity.” Provided the dismissal: Entitled to separation pay, even if terminated for just cause (1) was not for serious misconduct; and (2) does not reflect on the moral character of the employee. Thus, he was granted separation pay equivalent to one-half (1/2) month’s pay for every year of service. Obergefell v. Hodges Primary Holding Under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, all states must license a marriage between two people of the same sex and recognize such a marriage if it was lawfully licensed and performed in another state. Facts In Ohio, John Arthur was suffering from the latter stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a terminal illness. Recognizing the need to make critical end-of-life decisions,  Arthur sought to have the Ohio Registrar identify his partner, James Obergefell, as his surviving spouse on his death certificate so that Obergefell could receive the benefits due to a spouse. Arthur and Obergefell had married in Maryland two years earlier. The Registrar planned to certify Obergefell as  Arthur's spouse on the death certificate, believing that discrimination against same-sex couples was unconstitutional. The state of Ohio prohibited same-sex marriage, however, and its Attorney General's Office mobilized to defend that ban.  Also in Ohio, four same-sex couples brought a claim seeking the right to list both parents on the birth certificates of their children. In this case, known as Henry v. Wymyslo, three of the couples lived in Ohio, and all of the children were born there. Henry v. Wymyslo was heard before the same judge who reviewed the Obergefell case, District Judge Timothy S. Black. In Tennessee, four same-sex couples sued to force the state to recognize their marriages, which had been performed in California and New York. (One of the New York couples later left the case.) They argued that Tennessee's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages violated its own rule that a marriage validated where it is celebrated is valid everywhere. In Michigan, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse brought a claim on behalf of themselves and three children whom they sought to  jointly adopt. All of the children, one boy and two girls, had special needs. The two nurses challenged a state law prohibiting adoption by same-sex couples and limiting second-parent adoption to married couples, while defining marriage as between opposite-sex individuals only. In Kentucky, Gregory Bourke and Michael DeLeon brought a claim on behalf of themselves and DeLeon's two adopted children. Three other couples, one with four children, joined their claim. While Bourke and DeLeon were legally married in Ontario, Canada, the other couples were married in Iowa, California, and Connecticut. The couples prevailed in the federal district courts of all four states. In Obergefell, District Judge Black issued a temporary restraining order, which the state did not appeal, and planned oral arguments on whether a permanent injunction should be granted. Unfortunately, Arthur died before arguments were held, and the state moved within a week to dismiss the case as moot. Black denied the motion and ruled two months later that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states on death certificates. He also issued an order in Henry v. Wymyslo that required states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, although he stayed the enforcement of his ruling with respect to matters other than the birth certificates sought in this specific case.
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