Saturday, June 10, 2006

Presumed Guilty (Is it time to abolish the NLRC part 4)

The fallacy of the NLRC's bias for labor is the point of this series. And I proceed to show the unfairness of its rules of procedure on labor cases.

I mentioned in the first post that in an illegal dismissal case, the burden of proving the legality of an employee's dismissal is on the employer. If it were a basketball game, labor gets plus twenty points.

The NLRC Rules of Procedure provides that in the event that the mediation conference fails, the parties are required to simultaneously submit their position papers. As a practicing lawyer, l've gone through this procedure many times, and there many instances when I got a mere two-page document as an employee's position paper. Those position papers have practically nothing to say, but they don't have to say anything to begin with, because the burden of proof is on the employer.

Again, this unfairness in the rules could be tolerated by big corporations, but to small and medium enterprises, which populate Philippine commerce, it's a cruel joke.
Whimsical and arbitrary labor complaints, even if apparent in a two-page position paper can still have a chance to win millions of pesos if the employer is unable to discharge the burden of proof properly. And in discharging the burden of proof properly, the employer has to procure the services of competent and pricey lawyers. How can we expect small and medium enterprises to thrive, if the NLRC cannot protect it from baseless and whimsical labor complaints?

In ordinary civil cases, the party who alleges a fact has the burden of proof to support the allegation. In a labor case, the employee alleges the fact of illegal dismissal, but the burden of proof that the dismissal is legal is on the employer. In other words, any employee can go the NLRC and claim illegal dismissal, and the employer has no choice but to spend for legal services to prove otherwise. The employer is presumed guilty, just by the mere say so of the employee.

The premise of this rule is that all employees are saints, and all employers are rich enough to pay for legal costs. The absurdity is staring at us. It's time to get real.

(To be continued)


The Pinay Lawyer said...

amen, amen, and amen to all your posts, previous and upcoming (yes), that are related to your opinion of the NLRC and its rules. at last, someone is speaking up.

marvin said...

Thanks Pinay Lawyer!