Saturday, August 15, 2015
AQUINAS SCHOOL, PETITIONER, VS. SPS. JOSE INTON AND MA. VICTORIA S. INTON, ON THEIR BEHALF AND ON BEHALF OF THEIR MINOR CHILD, JOSE LUIS S. INTON, AND SR. MARGARITA YAMYAMIN, OP, G.R. No. 184202, January 26, 2011.
“x x x.
“The Court has consistently applied the “four-fold test” to determine the existence of an employer-employee relationship: the employer (a) selects and engages the employee; (b) pays his wages; (c) has power to dismiss him; and (d) has control over his work. Of these, the most crucial is the element of control. Control refers to the right of the employer, whether actually exercised or reserved, to control the work of the employee as well as the means and methods by which he accomplishes the same.
In this case, the school directress testified that Aquinas had an agreement with a congregation of sisters under which, in order to fulfill its ministry, the congregation would send religion teachers to Aquinas to provide catechesis to its students. Aquinas insists that it was not the school but Yamyamin’s religious congregation that chose her for the task of catechizing the school’s grade three students, much like the way bishops designate the catechists who would teach religion in public schools. Under the circumstances, it was quite evident that Aquinas did not have control over Yamyamin’s teaching methods. The Intons had not refuted the school directress’ testimony in this regard. Consequently, it was error for the CA to hold Aquinas solidarily liable with Yamyamin.
Of course, Aquinas still had the responsibility of taking steps to ensure that only qualified outside catechists are allowed to teach its young students. In this regard, it cannot be said that Aquinas took no steps to avoid the occurrence of improper conduct towards the students by their religion teacher.
First, Yamyamin’s transcript of records, certificates, and diplomas showed that she was qualified to teach religion.
Second, there is no question that Aquinas ascertained that Yamyamin came from a legitimate religious congregation of sisters and that, given her Christian training, the school had reason to assume that she would behave properly towards the students.
Third, the school gave Yamyamin a copy of the school’s Administrative Faculty Staff Manual that set the standards for handling students. It also required her to attend a teaching orientation before she was allowed to teach beginning that June of 1998.
Fourth, the school pre-approved the content of the course she was to teach to ensure that she was really catechizing the students.
And fifth, the school had a program for subjecting Yamyamin to classroom evaluation.Unfortunately, since she was new and it was just the start of the school year, Aquinas did not have sufficient opportunity to observe her methods. At any rate, it acted promptly to relieve her of her assignment as soon as the school learned of the incident. It cannot be said that Aquinas was guilty of outright neglect.
X x x.”