Tuesday, April 5, 2016

case doctrines in escarcha case

These are the case doctrines--meaning, the teachings which the Supreme Court have laid down in a certain case--in Escarcha v. Leonis Navigation Co. Inc. and World Marine Panama, S.A. (G.R. No. 182740).

Read the full text of Escarcha case here.

The Escarcha case is definitely ruled against the PLHA who already passed away at the time of the ruling. Fair warning, reader: cases filed before the Supreme Court are always read as if such is the first time. So, if there will be another HIV/AIDS-related case that the Court will decide, the Escarcha case is not an automatic stare decisis.

Here are the case doctrines of Escarcha case in relation to our Labor Laws (again, only in relation to Labor Laws):

1. The general acceptation of Republic Act 8504 (HIV/AIDS Law)  is that no discrimination in the workplace should exist.
Section 35 of RA 8504 provides that "Discrimination in any form from pre-employment to post-employment, including hiring, promotion or assignment, based on the actual, perceived or suspected HIV status of an individual is prohibited. Termination from work on the sole basis of actual, perceived or suspected HIV status is deemed unlawful."

2. Substantial pieces of evidence will refute the liberal construction of the Labor Code and special labor laws in favor of employees.
Any conclusion that the the courts or quasi-judicial agencies arrive at with the proper application of the law cannot be swayed by the intent of our laws and jurisprudence to be read liberally in their application to our overseas Filipino workers. Liberal construction is not a license to disregard the evidence on record or to misapply our laws. Stated otherwise, if an employee is found to be transgressing laws despite his condition, the Supreme Court will rule against his favor even if the RA 8504 aims to protect PLHAs and the Labor Code provides protection to employees.

3. Acquisition of HIV/AIDS due to an incident which is not work-related is not compensable, as an exception to RA 8504's general acceptation of non-discrimination. Stated otherwise, any demand of benefits as regards HIV/AIDS against an employer should be work-related.
Death arising from a pre-existing illness, like HIV/AIDS, is not compensable or rewardable especially when it is found that the illness was suppressed or undisclosed as a means to circumvent the law to gain employment. Even if RA 8504 includes "post-employment" as a phase where a person living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) cannot be discriminated against, if an employee acquired HIV/AIDS through sexual relations with an infected person and not because of his working conditions during the employment period, benefits cannot be rewarded.

4. There must be a rational connection between the worsening condition of a PLHA and the work-related condition or environment the PLHA is in.
AIDS is not listed as an occupational disease both under the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency-Standard Employment Contract (POEA-SEC) and the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) Rules. Thus, the claimant (e.g. the employee with HIV/AIDS or his/her heirs) bears the burden of reasonably proving the relationship between the work of the deceased and AIDS, or that the risk of contracting AIDS was increased by the working conditions of the deceased.

5. Employer not liable to pay benefits against a PLHA if there is circumvention of the law on the part of the PLHA to gain employment.
If an employer has come to know of an employee's HIV status long after the employee was employed and whose progression did not result in the worsening of his condition--as HIV is a disease of the immune system that does not progress to the point of attracting opportunistic infections until the immune system has substantially been weakened by the progress of the disease--the employer is not liable for any benefits due the employee, who did not suffer the illness due to work-related reasons.