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Friday, February 22, 2019

SC rules in favor of teacher dismissed over pregnancy out of wedlock

Supreme Court has ruled that a school teacher's pregnancy out of wedlock is not a just cause for termination of employment "absent any showing that the pre-marital sexual relations and, consequently, pregnancy out of wedlock, are indeed considered disgraceful or immoral."

In a decision made public Friday, the SC affirmed a Court of Appeals (CA) ruling that found Union School International guilty of illegally dismissing an elementary school teacher who got pregnant out of wedlock.

In 2016, the CA's Special Third Division ordered the school to pay Charley Jayne Dagdag separation pay, back wages, and attorney's fees for dismissing her without just cause.

A statement by the SC's Public Information Office said Dagdag was employed on probationary status by Union School in 2012 when she learned she was pregnant. The father was supposedly marrying another woman.

The teacher was supposedly suspended after not reporting for work without notice. She later agreed to resign after allegedly being told by school officials she could face more severe penalties otherwise.

Quoted by the PIO, the SC said Dagdag had been constructively dismissed, the test of which is "whether a reasonable person would have felt compelled to give up his employment/position under the circumstances."

While the school held a grievance hearing on Dagdag's case, "its outcome was already predetermined as petitioners" — the school officials  — "were already resolute in their decision to terminate Dagdag's employment," the Court said.

“This is evident by the fact that Dagdag was left with two choices — resignation or dismissal and threatening her with possible revocation of her teaching license," it said in a decision penned by now-retired Associate Justice Noel Tijam.

The determination of whether or not conduct is disgraceful or immoral, the Court said, needs "a consideration of the totality of the circumstances surrounding the conduct and an assessment of the said circumstances vis-à-vis the prevailing norms of conduct, i.e., what the society generally considers moral and respectable."

Jurisprudence states the standard of morality is public and secular, not religious, it said.

"More importantly, there must be substantial evidence to establish that premarital sexual relations and pregnancy out of wedlock is considered disgraceful or immoral," the SC had ruled in the 2016 decision on Capin-Cadiz v. Brent Hospital and Colleges, Inc.

In this case, the evidence did not justify Dagdag's dismissal from work, because "there was no legal impediment" for her and the father of the child to marry at the time of conception, the SC said. 

Source: GMA News

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