NLRC-NCR Labor Arbiter finds call center agent's dismissal illegal
In a Decision on February 8, 2013, an NCR Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of the customer service representative or call center agent against The Resource Group Philippines for illegal dismissal.
The complainant, Jesus Apuan, filed a complaint for illegal dismissal with claims for backwages and reinstatement/separation pay and damages against the company.
He was hired by the company as Customer Service Representative for its Shared Services/AT&T DRC Account. During his employment, he was never oriented about the company policies.
The case arose when complainant received a call from a customer, but due to on-going system issues, it prevented him from pulling up their tools and the accounts of the customer. As a result, the customer demanded that his call be transferred to someone else. Complainant was left without choice but to obey the customer and transferred him to another department.
As a result, the company gives the complainant a notice to explain for alleged “call avoidance” and “acts of gross negligence or carelessness committed on the job that will prejudice the reputation of the company”, which is purportedly a “violation under the Manual Policy and Track 3 of the Corrective Action Process. After explaining his side, a termination letter was sent to him for serious misconduct and gross and habitual neglect of duties.
“It must be recalled that complainant was dismissed for serious misconduct and for gross and habitual neglect of duties for alleged “call avoidance or intentionally disconnecting the customer during the call,” the Labor Arbiter noted.
“Certainly, having transferred the said call to another department does not constitute intentional disconnection of call. The reason why complainant failed to attend to the concern of said customer was because he was unable to pull up his tools at that time due to system issues, which is beyond his control,” the Labor Arbiter said.
The Labor Arbiter ruled that serious misconduct is defined as “improper or wrong conduct”. It is 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 of judgment. The misconduct to be serious must be of such grave and aggravated character and not merely trivial and unimportant.
“This is the first time that complainant committed such particular infraction, hence, it could not be gainsaid that such infraction is habitual which merits complainant’s dismissal from employment,” the Labor Arbiter added.
“Be that as it may, the so-called policy of respondent company regarding “call avoidance”, Manual Policy on zero tolerance on misrepresentation and intentionally disconnecting a customer or placing them in hold until they hang up, or track 3 of the corrective action process were not even properly explained to the employees, including herein complainant. Respondent company never distributed such company policy for the employee’s information and guidance,” the Labor Arbiter noted.
The Labor Arbiter declared the dismissal of the complainant is illegal, and ordered the payment of backwages.
The Labor Arbiter has exclusive jurisdiction over illegal dismissal, money claims and other claims arising from employer-employee relationship.
If no appeal is filed, the decision or order of the Labor Arbiter becomes final and executory after ten (10) calendar days from receipt thereof.
Research, Information and Publications Division
National Labor Relations Commission