Question:

Roman had been a driver of Double-Ten Corporation for ten (10) years. As early as his fifth year in the service he was already commended as a Model Employee and given a salary increase. On his seventh year, he became a steward of his labor union. Since then he became disputatious and obstinate and his performance fell below par. One day his manager told him to pick up some documents from a certain bank which were needed to close a business transaction. Roman did not obey. He said he had an important personal engagement. Moreover, he did not want to drive a vehicle that was not airconditioned. When his immediate supervisor asked him in the afternoon to drive an airconditioned car, Roman again refused. He said he did not want to drive as he wanted to leave the office early.

Roman was asked to explain. After hearing his explanation, Roman was dismissed for willful disobedience. Roman filed a case for illegal dismissal against the Double-Ten Corporation with prayer for reinstatement and full back wages without loss of seniority rights, plus moral and exemplary damages and attorney’s fees. Roman contended that since there was no emergency situation and there were other drivers available, his refusal to drive for the manager, and later for his supervisor, was not serious enough to warrant his dismissal. On the other hand, he claimed that he was being punished because of his activities as a steward of his union.

If you were the Labor Arbiter, would you sustain Roman? Discuss fully.

(1995)

Suggested Answer:

No, I will not sustain Roman’s contention. Willful disobedience is a just cause for termination under Article 282 of the Labor Code. Roman’s willful refusal to drive for the manager, and later for his supervisor, constitute willful disobedience. His contention that there was no emergency situation, or that there were other drivers available, is not a valid excuse to disobey the lawful orders from his manager or his immediate supervisor.

His claim that he was being punished because of his activities as steward of his union cannot be sustained, there being no basis from the factual setting of the problem to support the same.

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