Legal Stories 1: Dismissing an Employee Due to Feng Shui
Christian Andrew Labitoria Gallardo
"Magiging oks ang 2021 dahil ito ay year of the ox"
The statement above is jokingly attributed to one feng shui expert who predicted that 2020 would be a great year. Guess another career has just been put to an end care of 2020. Seriously speaking though, the ancient art of feng shui which deals with bringing balance into the energy forces of the body and universe is strictly being adhered to by many, especially by our brothers and sisters of Chinese descent. Too serious that it was made a subject of a labor case.
In the case of Wensha Spa Center v Yung, an employee by the name of Loreta was recruited by Xu, the owner of Wensha Spa Center, in order to work as his personal assistant and interpreter. Soon however, she was promoted to the rank of Administrative Manager as she was able to improve the operations of the Spa Center.
On one fateful day however, she was asked to leave the premises of the Spa Center as Mr Xu and a Feng Shui master had to freely explore the premises to sense its “vibes” and its alignment to the tenets of Feng Shui. Later that day, she was asked to go on leave with pay for a month, but upon her return, she was being asked to resign already as the Feng Shui master opines that her vibe does not sit well with Mr Xu. While Mr Xu claims that she was being dismissed due to lack of trust and confidence after causing intrigues within the organization, the Court ultimately believed the version of the story of Ms. Loreta that she was dismissed due to vibe incompatibility with her superior. Now the question therefore is this: Does having an opposite vibe as per Feng Shui teachings warrant termination?
The court sternly ruled that it is not. The security of tenure guaranteed by the Constitution provides that a worker can only be terminated from his employment for cause and after due process. While a managerial employee may indeed be terminated due to lack of trust and confidence, there must be a rational basis as to why and how the confidence reposed was breached by the employee. The incompatibility of vibes under Feng Shui doctrines could not amount to loss of trust and confidence sufficient to warrant termination.
Given that the relations between the parties are already strained however, she could not be reinstated anymore, and was awarded separation pay instead. Thus, she was given her full backwages, monetary equivalent of her other benefits, and separation pay reckoned from the date of her dismissal up to the finality of the decision, plus moral damages in the amounts of Fifty Thousand (₱50,000.00) Pesos exemplary damages in the amount of Twenty Five Thousand (₱25,000.00) Pesos and attorney’s fees in the amount of Twenty Thousand (₱20,000.00) Pesos.
Guess the prediction of the Feng Shui master is not so lucky after all. But you gotta give it to him. He was right. Their vibes didnt go well after that day.
Cover Photo from: Feng Shui Mall
 Christian Andrew Labitoria Gallardo is a recent graduate of the Ateneo School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree, and is currently an associate of the Sangalan and Gaerlan, Business Lawyers, a law firm specializing in labor, corporate and business law. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org  Wensha Spa Center v Yung, GR No 185122 (2010)