No-spouse policy discriminatory — SC

September 2, 2022

The no-spouse employment policy of employers is discriminatory unless there is a reasonable business necessity.

This was declared by the Supreme Court Second Division through Associate Justice Marvic Leonen as it issued a decision ordering the reinstatement of petitioner Catherine dela Cruz-Cagampan to her former position in One Network Bank Inc.

The High Bench decision set aside the Court of Appeals ruling issued on 31 July 2014 reversing the National Labor Relations Commission findings that Cagampan was illegally dismissed.

The respondent ONBI was directed by the Court to pay her back wages, her proportionate 13thmonth pay for 2010, allowances and other benefits or their monetary equivalent from the time she was illegally dismissed on 17 February 2010.

Also, the SC said Cagampan is also entitled to attorney’s fees of 10 percent of the total monetary award, subject to legal interest at the rate of six percent per annum from the finality of the decision until full payment.

The High Tribunal did not give merit to the argument of the bank that the petitioner’s marriage to her fellow employee places the bank’s funds at risk for embezzlement.

According to the Court, such, assertion, must be based on facts and not on mere speculations.

“Friends, lovers and couples share secrets. Any bank employee may potentially craft elaborate schemes to embezzle the bank’s funds. While a bank must observe high standards of diligence, enforcing an arbitrary no-spouse employment rule that directs the immediate dismissal of an employee who marries a co-worker cannot be justified. That is illegal dismissal,” the SC said.

Records stated, Cagampan married her co-worker Audie Angelo, who served as a loan specialist in ONBI, on 31 October 2009, or five years after she was hired as an accounting specialist.

On 4 November 2009, the couple requested permission from ONBI President Alex Beunaventura to continue working for the bank, similar to that given to other couples in its office.

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