G.R. No. 153477 (March 6, 2007)

This case demonstrates the fact that Article 137 of the Labor Code is in consonance with CEDAW Article 11(2)(a).

Facts: Respondent was a regular employee of petitioner, Del Monte Philippines. On 17 September 1994, a notice of hearing was sent to respondent notifying her of the charges filed against her by the company, more specifically, for violating the Absence Without Official Leave Rule. She was subsequently dismissed. The respondent filed a case for illegal dismissal, asserting that her dismissal was illegal because she was suffering from a urinary tract infection related to her pregnancy and that her doctor had advised her to stay home for a few days. She declared that she did not file the adequate leave of absence because a medical certificate was already sufficient per company policy. The Labor Arbiter dismissed the complaint. On appeal, both the NLRC and the CA declared the dismissal of complainant as illegal for being contrary to Art. 137 (2) of the Labor Code, prohibiting the discharge of a woman on account of her pregnancy.

Held: The Court affirmed the ruling of the Court of Appeals. Respondent’s rule penalizing with discharge any employee incurring six (6) or more absences without permission or subsequent justification is admittedly within the purview of the labor standard. However, while it is not disputed that complainant incurred absences exceeding 6 days, respondent was able to subsequently justify her absences in accordance with company rules and policy: that she was pregnant at the time she incurred the absences; that the fact of pregnancy and its related illnesses had been duly proven through substantial evidence; that the respondent attempted to file leaves of absence but the petitioner’s supervisor refused to received them; that she could not have filed prior leaves due to her continuing condition, and that petitioner dismissed the respondent on account of her pregnancy, a prohibited act. Art. 137 of the Labor Code provides: “It shall be unlawful for any employer: x x x (2.) To discharge such woman on account of her pregnancy, while on leave or in confinement due to her pregnancy; x x x.”