Texon Mnfg v. Millena : 141380 : April 14, 2004 : J. Sandoval-Gutierrez
: Third Division : Decision
[G.R. NO. 141380 : April 14, 2004]
TEXON MANUFACTURING AND BETTY CHUA, Petitioners, v. GRACE MILLENA AND MARILYN MILLENA, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
For resolution is a Petition for Review on Certiorariassailing the Decision1 dated August 9, 1999and
Resolution2 dated December 29, 1999of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. SP No. 51838, Texon Manufacturing and/or Betty Chua v. Grace and Marilyn Millena.
The facts as culled from the records are:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Sometime in February 1990 and May 1990, Marilyn and Grace
Millena, respondents,were employed by Texon Manufacturing, petitioner company.
However, in the summer of 1995, petitioner company terminated the
services of respondent Grace Millena, prompting her to file with the Labor
Arbiter, on August 21, 1995,
a complaint for money claims representing underpayment and non-payment of
wages, overtime and holiday pay. Impleaded as respondents were petitioner company and its owner, Betty
Chua. The case was docketed as NLRC Case
Similarly, on September
8, 1995, petitioner company terminated the services of respondent
Marilyn Millena. The following day, she
went to petitioners office to get her salary. Betty Chua then offered her the
P1,500. 00 as a starting capital for a small business. At that instance, Francisco Tan, Betty Chuas
husband, asked her to sign a blank piece of paper. Thinking that it was a receipt for the amount
of P1,500. 00 given by Betty Chua, respondent signed the blank
sheet. However, it turned out that it
was a resignation letter and quitclaim of her back salaries. Thus, on September 11, 1995, she filed with
the Labor Arbiter a complaint for illegal dismissal with prayer for payment of
full backwages and benefits, docketed as NLRC Case No. 00-09-06215-95. Forthwith, the two (2) cases were
On November 21, 1995,
petitioners filed a motion to dismiss both complaints on the ground of
On January 10, 1996,
the Labor Arbiter issued an Order3 denying the motion to dismiss.
Petitioners then interposed an appeal to the National Labor
Relations Commission (NLRC).
On February 27, 1997,
the NLRC promulgated an Order4 dismissing the appeal and affirming the Arbiters Order.
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied by
Consequently, petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorariwith the Court of Appeals.
On August 9, 1999,
the Appellate Court rendered a Decision affirming the NLRC Order. In sustaining the denial by the NLRC of
petitioners motion to dismiss, the Court of Appeals held:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Admittedly, the three year prescriptive period under Article 291
of the Labor Code, is supposedly counted from the time the cause of action
x x x
We repeat, Grace and Marilyn were employed in May 1990 and
February 1990, respectively, but were terminated in the summer of 1995 and September 8, 1995.
We rule, the three-year period did not yet prescribe, considering
that Grace filed her complaint on August
21, 1995, while Marilyn filed her complaint in September 1995.
x x x
Indeed, there is no merit in the contention of petitioner that
Article 291 of the Labor Code is applicable in the case at bar insofar as
respondent Marilyn Millena is concerned. The action for illegal dismissal, underpayment of wages, holiday pay,
overtime pay, service incentive leave pay was filed by private respondent
Marilyn Millena on September 11, 1995, or two (2) days after the alleged
effectivity date of her dismissal on September 8, 1995 which was well within
the four (4) year prescriptive period provided for in Article 1146 of the New
Article 291 of the Labor Code however, is applicable insofar as
private respondent Grace Millena is concerned. Nevertheless, the claim for
underpayment of wages, non-payment of overtime pay, holiday pay should still
subsist. It should be noted that private respondent Grace Millena filed her
claim for underpayment of wages, non-payment of overtime pay and holiday pay,
one (1) year, one (1) month and twenty one (21) days after the last effectivity
of her employment on May 31, 1994, which is well within the three (3) year
prescriptive period provided for in Article 291 of the Labor Code.
x x x
THE FOREGOING CONSIDERED, the contested Resolution dated February 27, 1997, is affirmed; and
the Petition for Certiorari is hereby dismissed.
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, but was denied by
the Court of Appeals in a Resolution dated December 29, 1999.
Petitioners, in the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari, contend (1) that prescription has extinguished respondents money claims
considering that under Article 291 of the Labor Code, as amended, the
three-year prescriptive period is counted from the time their causes of action
accrued; and (2) that their appeal to the NLRC should have been sustained by
the Court of Appeals, being in accordance with Article 223 of the same Code.
ON THE ISSUE OF
The pivotal question is when respondents causes of action
accrued for this will determine the reckoning date of the prescriptive period.
In Baliwag Transit, Inc. v. Ople,5 we held:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Since a cause of action
requires, as essential elements, not only a legal right of the plaintiff and a
correlative obligation of the defendant but also an act or omission of the
defendant in violation of said legal right, the cause of action does not
accrue until the party obligated refuses, expressly or impliedly, to comply
with its duty.
ON RESPONDENT GRACE
MILLENAS MONEY CLAIM
The applicable law is Article 291 of the Labor Code, as
amended, which provides:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Article 291. Money claims. All money claims arising from
employer-employee relations accruing during the effectivity of this Code shall
be filed within three years from the time the cause of action accrued,
otherwise they shall be forever barred.
We disagree with petitioners contention that respondent Grace
Millenas cause of action for money claims accrued in the summer of 1991 and
1992 when, by reason of her employment, she became entitled to the companys
monetary benefits. Records show that it
was only after petitioner company terminated her services, sometime in the
summer of 1995, that she decided to file with the Labor Arbiter her complaint
for money claim. The three (3) year
prescriptive period should then be counted, not from 1991 or 1992, but from
1995. Respondents complaint was filed
on August 21, 1995or
barely three (3) months after the termination of her employment in the summer
of 1995. There is, therefore, no
question that her complaint was seasonably filed.
MARILYN MILLENAS SUIT FOR ILLEGAL DISMISSAL
Article 1146 of the New Civil Code provides:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Art. 1146. The following
actions must be instituted within four years:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
(1) Upon an injury to the rights of the plaintiff;chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
(2) Upon a quasi-delict.
Our ruling in Callanta v. Carnation Philippines, Inc.6 is pertinent, thus:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Ones employment or profession is a property right and the
wrongful interference therewith is an actionable wrong. The right is considered to be property within
the protection of the constitutional guarantee of due process of law. Clearly then, when one is arbitrarily and
unjustly deprived of his job or means of livelihood, the action instituted to
contest the legality of ones dismissal from employment constitutes, in
essence, an action predicated upon an injury to the rights of the plaintiff,
as contemplated under Article 1146 of the New Civil Code, which must be brought
within 4 years.
Respondents complaint for illegal dismissal with prayer for the
grant of money claims and benefits is one covered by Article 1146 of the Civil
Code, quoted earlier, that must be filed with the Labor Arbiter within four (4)
years. Respondents complaint was filed
on September 11, 1995or
only three (3) daysafter petitioners terminated her services on September 8, 1995. Clearly, her suit was filed on time.
We thus hold that the Court of Appeals correctly ruled that both
respondents actions have not yet prescribed.
Petitioners also contend that the NLRC should not have dismissed
their appeal from the Decision of the Labor Arbiter, citing Article 223 of the
Labor Code, as amended, which provides:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Article 223. Appeal.
Decisions, awards, or orders of the Labor Arbiter are final and executory
unless appealed to the Commission by any or both parties within ten (10)
calendar days from receipt of such decisions, awards, or orders. x x x.
In dismissing petitioners appeal, the NLRC relied on the
provisions of Section 15, Rule V (now Section 3, Rule V) of the NLRC Rules of
Procedure, as amended by NLRC Resolution No. 01-02, Series of 2002, quoted as
Section 3. Motion to
Dismiss. x x x. An order denying
the motion to dismissor suspending its resolution until the final
determination of the case is not appealable.
The Solicitor General, in his comment, maintains that the above
Rule does not contravene Article 223 of the Labor Code. Hence, the NLRCs reliance on the same Rule
is in order. The Solicitor General
The orders contemplated in Article 223 of the Labor Code are
decisions, awards or orders which are final in character and not merely
interlocutory orders, as in the case of an order denying a motion to dismiss.
x x x
In the instant case, the order of the Labor Arbiter denying
petitioners motion to dismiss was not yet final as there was something else to
be done, namely the filing of the answer and the subsequent proceedings wherein
the respective parties would ventilate their respective sides.
We agree with the Solicitor General.
The Order of the Labor Arbiter denying petitioners motion to
dismiss is interlocutory. It is
well-settled that a denial of a motion to dismiss a complaint is an
interlocutory order and hence, cannot be appealed, until a final judgment on
the merits of the case is rendered.7 cralawred
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision dated August 9, 1999and Resolution dated December 29, 1999of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G. R. SP No. 51838 are hereby AFFIRMED. The case is remanded to
the Labor Arbiter for further proceedings.
Costs against petitioners.
Vitug, (Chairman), Corona, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.
Annex A of the Petition for Review, Rollo
G. R. No. L-70615, October 28, 1986,
145 SCRA 268, 279, cited in Baliwag Transit, Inc. v. Ople
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