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Pepe Santos was an international flight steward of Flysafe Airlines. Under FSA's Cabin Crew Administration Manual, Santos must maintain, given his height and body frame, a weight of 150 to 170 pounds.
After 5 years as a flight steward, Santos began struggling with his weight; he weighed 200 lbs., 30 pounds over the prescribed maximum weight. The Airline gave him a one-year period to attain the prescribed weight, and enrolled him in several weight reduction programs. He consistently failed to meet his target. He was given a 6-month grace period, after which he still failed to meet the weight limit. FSC thus sent him a Notice of
Administrative Charge for violation of company standards on weight requirements. He stated in his answer that, for medical reasons, he cannot have a rapid weight loss. A clarificatory hearing was held where Santos fully explained his predicament. The explanation did not satisfy FSA and so it decided to terminate Santos's service for violation of company standards.
Santos filed a complaint for illegal dismissal, arguing that the company's weight requirement policy is unreasonable and that his case is not a disciplinary but a medical issue (as one gets older, the natural tendency is to grow heavier). FSA defended its policy as a valid exercise of management prerogative and from the point of view of passenger safety and extraordinarydiligence required by law of common carriers; it also posited that Santos failure to achieve his ideal weight constituted gross and habitual neglect of duty, as well as willful disobedience to lawful employer orders. The Labor Arbiter found the dismissal illegal for there was neither gross and habitual neglect of duty nor willful disobedience.
Is the Labor Arbiter correct? Why or why not? Explain fully
On the day that the Union could validly declare a strike, the Secretary of Labor issued an order assuming jurisdiction over the dispute and enjoining the strike, or if one has commenced, ordering the striking workers to immediately return to work. The return-to- work order required the employees to return to work within twenty-four hours and was served at 8 a.m. of the day the strike was to start. The order at the same time directed the Company to accept all employees under the same terms and conditions of employment prior to the work stoppage. The Union members did not return to work on the day the Secretary's assumption order was served nor on the next day; instead, they held a continuing protest rally against the company's alleged unfair labor practices. Because of the accompanying picket, some of the employees who wanted to return to work failed to do so. On the 3rd day, the workers reported for work, claiming that they do so in compliance with the Secretary's return- to-work order that binds them as well as the Company. The Company, however, refused to admit them back since they had violated the Secretary's return-to-work order and are now considered to have lost their employment status.
The Union officers and members filed a complaint for illegal dismissal arguing that there was no strike but a protest rally which is a valid exercise of the workers constitutional right to peaceable assembly and freedom of expression. Hence, there was no basis for the termination of their employment.
You are the Labor Arbiter to whom the case was raffled. Decide, ruling on the following issues:
Were the employees simply exercising their constitutional right to petition for redress of their grievances?