Loss of trust and confidence must be performance-related to justify dismissal


A manager was dismissed on the ground of loss of trust and confidence because of losses incurred by a unit that was no longer under his responsibility. The Supreme Court ruled:

“Loss of confidence as a just cause for termination of employment is premised on the fact that the employee concerned holds a position of responsibility or trust and confidence.  He must be invested with confidence on delicate matters, such as custody handling or care and protection of the property and assets of the employer.  And, in order to constitute a just cause for dismissal, the act complained of must be work-related and shows that the employee concerned is unfit to continue to work for the employer.

“From the findings of both the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC it is clear that James did nothing wrong when he handed over to Marciana the envelope containing the applications of persons under the referred accounts of Jorge who were later found to be fictitious.  As the records now stand, James was no longer connected with the VISA Credit Card Unit when the 67 applications for VISA card were approved.  At such time, he was already the Head of the Marketing and Operations of the Jewelry Department.  His act therefore of forwarding the already accomplished applications to the VISA Credit Card Unit is proper as he is not in any position to act on them.  The processing and verification of the identities of the applicants would have been done by the proper department, which is the VISA Credit Card Unit.  Therefore, it is incumbent upon Marciana as Unit Head to have performed her duties.  As correctly observed by the Labor Arbiter, Keppel had gone too far in blaming James for the shortcomings and imprudence of Marciana.  The invocation of Keppel of the loss of trust and confidence as ground for James’s termination has therefore no basis at all.

“Having shown that Keppel failed to discharge its burden of proving that James’s dismissal is for a just cause, we have no other recourse but to declare that such dismissal based on the ground of loss of trust and confidence was illegal.  This is in consonance with the constitutional guarantee of security of tenure.”

Jerusalem v. Keppel Monte Bank, et al., G.R. No. 169564, April 6, 2011, First Division

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