The Supreme Court has ordered the Ayala-owned Globe Telecom to pay eight years’ worth of back wages and separation pay to an employee it dismissed for reducing her father’s P999 cellphone charge to zero due to poor service.
The Supreme Court First Division led by Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo sided with former Globe retail shop specialist Kay Abastillas Ebitner and ruled that what she did wasn’t a form of misconduct even if it benefited her father.
“Another circumstance which militates against petitioner (Globe)’s accusations is the fact that, as already mentioned, respondent was authorized to make credit adjustments as Retail Shop Specialist. Thus, her actions, such as making credit adjustments, must be presumed regular unless otherwise clearly proven,” the ruling penned by Justice Ramon Paul Hernando wrote.
The court said that Globe failed to explain how Ebitner’s credit adjustment was baseless.
“In all, what is only firmly established by the proceedings below is that
respondent made a credit adjustment on her father’s account in the amount of P998.99. By no stretch of imagination can this be considered serious misconduct,” the decision, which was promulgated last January, read.
Globe’s fraud risk team flagged Ebitner in 2015 for reducing the P998.99 due in her father’s account without following proper procedure. She explained that she followed protocol after her mother, who used her father’s mobile number complained that calls were dropped frequently and reception was poor.
Ebitner also stressed that her role specifically allowed her to make credit adjustments to subscriber accounts over service complaints. She offered to pay the adjusted amount to Globe to put an end to the issue, but to no avail.
Court documents showed that Ebitner was preventively suspended and later on dismissed by Globe following the incident in 2015, prompting her which got her to file a case for illegal dismissal before the National Labor Relations Commission.
The case eventually reached the Supreme Court.
The court said that while an illegally dismissed employee is entitled to reinstatement, that was no longer an option for Ebitner due to “strained relations” between her and Globe.
In addition to paying Ebitner eight years’ worth of back pay, the court ordered the Ayala-owned telco to pay her a separation pay equivalent to one month per year of service from the time she started working for Globe until the decision becomes final.