CAPIN-CADIZ VS. BRENT HOSPITAL AND COLLEGE, GR 187417, February 24, 2016.
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Immorality as a just cause for termination of employment Both the LA and the NLRC upheld Cadiz's dismissal as one attended with just cause. The LA, while ruling that Cadiz's indefinite suspension was tantamount to a constructive dismissal, nevertheless found that there was just cause for her dismissal. According to the LA, "there was just cause therefor, consisting in her engaging in premarital sexual relations with Carl Cadiz, allegedly her boyfriend, resulting in her becoming pregnant out of wedlock."29 The LA deemed said act to be immoral, which was punishable by dismissal under Brent's rules and which likewise constituted serious misconduct under Article 282( a) of the Labor Code. The LA also opined that since Cadiz was Brent's Human Resource Officer in charge of implementing its rules against immoral conduct, she should have been the "epitome of proper conduct."30 x x x.
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Thus, the question that must be resolved is whether Cadiz's premarital relations with her boyfriend and the resulting pregnancy out of wedlock constitute immorality. To resolve this, the Court makes reference to the recently promulgated case of Cheryll Santos Leus v. St. Scholastica s College Westgrove and/or Sr. Edna Quiambao, OSB, G.R. No. 187226, January 28, 2015.
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Jurisprudence has already set the standard of morality with which an act should be gauged -it is public and secular, not religious. 40 Whether a conduct is considered disgraceful or immoral should be made in accordance with the prevailing norms of conduct, which, as stated in Leus, refer to those conducts which are proscribed because they are detrimental to conditions upon which depend the existence and progress of human society. The fact that a particular act does not conform to the traditional moral views of a certain sectarian institution is not sufficient reason to qualify such act as immoral unless it, likewise, does not confonn to public and secular standards. More importantly, there must be substantial evidence to establish that premarital sexual relations and pregnancy out of wedlock is considered disgraceful or immoral.41
The totality of the circumstances of this case does not justify the conclusion that Cadiz committed acts of immorality. Similar to Leus, Cadiz and her boyfriend were both single and had no legal impediment to marry at the time she committed the alleged immoral conduct. In fact, they eventually married on April 15, 2008.42 Aside from these, the labor tribunals' respective conclusion that Cadiz's "indiscretion" "scandalized the Brent community" is speculative, at most, and there is no proof adduced by Brent to support such sweeping conclusion. Even Brent admitted that it came to know of Cadiz's "situation" only when her pregnancy became manifest.43 Brent also conceded that "[a]t the time [Cadiz] and Carl R. Cadiz were just carrying on their boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, there was no knowledge or evidence by [Brent] that they were engaged also in premarital sex."44 This only goes to show that Cadiz did not flaunt her premarital relations with her boyfriend and it was not carried on under scandalous or disgraceful circumstances. As declared in Leus, "there is no law which penalizes an unmarried mother by reason of her sexual conduct or proscribes the consensual sexual activity between two unmarried persons; that neither does such situation contravene[s] any fundamental state policy enshrined in the Constitution. "45 The fact that Brent is a sectarian institution does not automatically subject Cadiz to its religious standard of morality absent an express statement in its manual of personnel policy and regulations, prescribing such religious standard as gauge as these regulations create the obligation on both the employee and the employer to abide by the 46 same.
Brent, likewise, cannot resort to the MRPS because the Court already stressed in Leus that "premarital sexual relations between two consenting adults who have no impediment to marry each other, and, consequently, conceiving a child out of wedlock, gauged from a purely public and secular view of morality, does not amount to a disgraceful or immoral conduct under Section 94(e) of the 1992 MRPS."47
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