Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sexual acts between two consenting adults do not have a place in the work environment.

"x x x.
After due consideration, we find the NLRC legally correct and well within its jurisdiction when it affirmed the validity of the respondents' dismissal on the ground of serious misconduct.

Sexual acts and intimacies between two consenting adults belong, as a principled ideal, to the realm of purely private relations. Whether aroused by lust or inflamed by sincere affection, sexual acts should be carried out at such place, time and circumstance that, by the generally accepted norms of conduct, will not offend public decency nor disturb the generally held or accepted social morals. Under these parameters, sexual acts between two consenting adults do not have a place in the work environment.

Indisputably, the respondents engaged in sexual intercourse inside company premises and during work hours. These circumstances, by themselves, are already punishable misconduct. Added to these considerations, however, is the implication that the respondents did not only disregard company rules but flaunted their disregard in a manner that could reflect adversely on the status of ethics and morality in the company.

Additionally, the respondents engaged in sexual intercourse in an area where co-employees or other company personnel have ready and available access. The respondents likewise committed their act at a time when the employees were expected to be and had, in fact, been at their respective posts, and when they themselves were supposed to be, as all other employees had in fact been, working.

Under these factual premises and in the context of legal parameters we discussed, we cannot help but consider the respondents' misconduct to be of grave and aggravated character so that the company was justified in imposing the highest penalty available — dismissal. Their infraction transgressed the bounds of socially and morally accepted human public behavior, and at the same time showed brazen disregard for the respect that their employer expected of them as employees. By their misconduct, the respondents, in effect, issued an open invitation for others to commit the same infraction, with like disregard for their employer's rules, for the respect owed to their employer, and for their co-employees' sensitivities. Taken together, these considerations reveal a depraved disposition that the Court cannot but consider as a valid cause for dismissal.

In ruling as we do now, we considered the balancing between the respondents' tenurial rights and the petitioner's interests - the need to defend their management prerogative and to maintain as well a high standard of ethics and morality in the workplace. Unfortunately for the respondents, in this balancing under the circumstances of the case, we have to rule against their tenurial rights in favor of the employer's management rights.

All told, the respondents' misconduct, under the circumstances of this case, fell within the terms of Article 282 (now Article 296) of the Labor Code. Consequently, we reverse the CA's decision for its failure to recognize that no grave abuse of discretion attended the NLRC's decision to support the respondents' dismissal for serious misconduct.”

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