Labor Law: Cashiers Beware!

The case EATS-CETERA FOOD SERVICES OUTLET and/or SERAFIN RAMIREZ, versus MYRNA B. LETRAN and MARY GRACE ESPADERO, (G.R. No. 179507, October 2, 2009) involves a cashier whose time card was punched in by someone else. She failed to report this incident to her supervisor, for which reason she was eventually dismissed. One wonders whether such a minor matter could be a just cause for dismissal, but so it is! And the crucial factor here is her position as cashier. According to the Supreme Court:

Substantively, we also sustain petitioners’ reasoning that Espadero’s position as a cashier is one that requires a high degree of trust and confidence, and that her infraction reasonably taints such trust and confidence reposed upon her by her employer.

A position of trust and confidence has been defined as one where a person is entrusted with confidence on delicate matters, or with the custody, handling, or care and protection of the employer’s property[16] and/or funds.[17] One such position is that of a cashier. A cashier is a highly sensitive position which requires absolute trust and honesty on the part of the employee.[18] It is for this reason that the Court has sustained the dismissal of cashiers who have been found to have breached the trust and confidence of their employers. In one case, the Court upheld the validity of the dismissal of a school cashier despite her 19 years of service after evidence showed that there was a discrepancy in the amount she was entrusted to deposit with a bank.[19]

The Court went on to say:

In the instant case, petitioners cannot be faulted for losing their trust in Espadero. As an employee occupying a job which requires utmost fidelity to her employers, she failed to report to her immediate supervisor the tampering of her time card. Whether her failure was deliberate or due to sheer negligence, and whether Espadero was or was not in cahoots with a co-worker, the fact remains that the tampering was not promptly reported and could, very likely, not have been known by petitioners, or, at least, could have been discovered at a much later period, if it had not been reported by Espadero’s supervisor to the personnel manager. Petitioners, therefore, cannot be blamed for losing their trust in Espadero.

But wasn’t this incident a minor and trivial one? Isn’t dismissal too severe a penalty in this case? The Supreme Court didn’t think so:

Moreover, the peculiar nature of Espadero’s position aggravates her misconduct. Misconduct has been defined as improper or wrong conduct; the transgression of some established or definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere error in judgment. The misconduct, to be serious, must be of such a grave character and not merely trivial or unimportant. To constitute just cause for termination, it must be in connection with the employee’s work.[23] With the degree of trust expected of Espadero, such infraction can hardly be classified as one that is trivial or unimportant. Her failure to promptly report the incident reflects a cavalier regard for the responsibility required of her in the discharge of the duties of her position.

The lesson here is: if you’re a cashier and someone else punches in your time card, don’t fail to report this to your supervisor… or else! On the other hand, if you’re an ordinary employee, whose position does not require a high degree of trust and confidence, then probably a warning or reprimand is what you’ll get, or at worse, suspension. So, cashiers beware!

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