On June 11, 2004, Catherine was hired as an Accounting Specialist at One Network Bank, Inc. On May 1, 2006, One Network Bank, Inc. implemented an exogamy policy.
October 3, 2009, Catherine married her co-worker, Audie Angelo A. Cagampan, a loan specialist. November 4, 2009, the couple requested permission from One Network Bank Pres. Alex V. Buenaventura. Myrna S. Viado, head of human resources, denied and terminated Catherine’s employment.
February 1, 2010, Catherine sought reconsideration. She filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against One Network Bank, Inc.
October 29, 2010, the Labor Arbiter ruled that Catherine was illegally dismissed. Ordered respondent to immediately reinstate complainant to her former position, and pay her full back wages, tentatively amounting of P100, 690.85 (P12,009 X 8 months and 10 days) and her proportionate 13th month pay for 2010, amounting of P1,501.13. On appeal on June 30, 2011, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) affirmed the Labor Arbiter’s ruling. Furthermore, on August 24, 2011, the NLRC denied One Network Bank’s motion for reconsideration.
One Network Bank filed a Petition for Certiorari with an Application for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order before the Court of Appeals. CA denied One Network Bank’s prayer for lack of merit on May 2, 2012.
July 31, 2014, CA granted One Network Bank’s petition. However, due to the absence of procedural due process, One Network Bank, Inc. is ordered to pay Catherine P30,000 and separation pay equivalent to one month salary at the time of her dismissal.
February 20, 2015, Catherine filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but CA denied it. Hence, she filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari. On July 13, 2015, the Court required One Network Bank, Buenaventura, and Viado for their comments. The court grants the petition and reverses the assailed Court of Appeals judgment. Petitioner Catherine Dela Cruz-Cagampan was illegally dismissed and must be reinstated.
Whether or not respondent One Network Bank, Inc.’s prohibition on retaining employees who marry a co-worker is lawful or reasonable? Or whether or not such policy is considered bona fide occupational qualification?
The Court of Appeals reversed the National Labor Relations Commission’s affirmation of the Labor Arbiter’s pronouncement that petitioner was illegally dismissed and respondents’ “exogamy policy” was unreasonable.
The Court of Appeals is mistaken. The National Labor Relations Commission’s ruling was proper and not in grave abuse of discretion.
The Constitution mandates the State to “afford full protection to labor. . . and promote full employment and equuality of employment opportunities for all.” It guarantees the right of all workers to security of tenure.
Under the Magna Carta of Women, , the State commits to eliminate discrimination against women and ensures their right to freely choose a spouse. Particularly, Article 134  of the Labor Code prohibits employers from discriminating women employees:
ARTICLE 134. Stipulation against marriage. 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. (Emphasis supplied)
Respondents implemented a policy stating that “when two employees working for One Network Bank are subsequently married through Church or Civil court rites, one must terminate employment immediately after marriage.” They then terminated petitioner’s employment for her violation of the company policy. Interestingly, her husband’s employment was retained.
Apart from the couple’s supposed transgression when they married, respondents did not state any other reason why they dismissed petitioner. Further, respondents consistently argued that the couple willingly violated the company policy despite their knowledge of it.While respondents maintain the petitioner and her husband both knowingly transgressed the rule, nothing in the records show why respondents dismissed petitioner in particular. To stress, they opted to terminate petitioner’s employment sans any reason why she must leave, in lieu of her husband. An employer’s dismissal of a female employee solely because of her marriage is precisely the discrimination that the Labor Code expressly prohibits. This Court cannot countenance respondent’s unlawful act.
One Network Bank, Inc.’s prohibition on retaining employees who marry a co-worker is unreasonable. Hence, not considered as bona fide occupational qualification. A bona fide occupational qualification requires the concurrence of two elements: “(1) that the employment qualification is reasonably related to the essential operation of the job involved; and (2) that there is a factual basis for believing that all or substantially all persons meeting the qualification would be unable to properly perform the duties of the job.”