Requisites for a misconduct to qualify as just cause for dismissing an employee.

Case Title: Metro Psychiatry, Inc. v. Bernie J. Llorente

Date of Promulgation: February 5, 2020 | G.R. No. 245258

FACTS: Respondent was hired as a nursing attendant by Petitioner Metro Psychiatry, Inc. (MPI). Subsequently, MPI served Llorente with a Memorandum for falsely reporting to the parents of one patient that the latter was being maltreated in the hospital. Per the Memorandum, the mother of a patient appeared at MPI's facility demanding to see her son because earlier that day, she received a text message from someone who claimed to be a former staff of MPI, stating that the patient was being subjected to physical assault by the members of the clinic staff. However, upon checking, no sign of physical injury was found on him. Consequently, the patient's mother called the informant via speaker phone, and as she did, two (2) nurses recognized Llorente's voice on the other end. When the management reviewed the closed circuit television footage, Llorente was seen flipping through patients' charts and copying information, which he placed inside his pocket. MPI then issued the Memorandum requiring Llorente to explain his side.

Through an Explanation Letter, Llorente denied contacting the patient's mother and alleged that he was merely copying the vital signs of patients for endorsement. Llorente received a Notice of Termination informing him of his dismissal from employment for loss of trust and confidence and willful disobedience. This prompted Llorente to file a complaint for constructive dismissal against MPI.

ISSUE: Whether Llorente was illegally dismissed from employment.

RULING: No. "Misconduct” is defined as the 'transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere error in judgment." For misconduct to be a just cause for dismissal, the following requisites must concur: "(a) the misconduct must be serious; (b) it must relate to the performance of the employee's duties showing that the employee has become unfit to continue working for the employer; and (c) it must have been performed with wrongful intent. "

Llorente's actuations of copying a patient's personal information and using it to malign MPI by relaying a false narrative are indicative of his wrongful intent. His actions comprise serious misconduct because as a nursing attendant, he has access to private and confidential information of MPI's patients, but he did not only illicitly copy the personal information of a patient of MPI, he also used the information to fulfill a deceitful purpose. The unauthorized use of a patient's personal information destroys a medical facility's reputation in the industry and in this case, could have even exposed MPI to a lawsuit.

Thus, MPI is justified in terminating the employment of Llorente.

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