Court of Appeals orders GMA-7 to reinstate 51 former talents

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 25 2020 12:30 PM

MANILA – The Court of Appeals has ordered the reinstatement of 51 “talents” of TV network GMA-7 who were either illegally fired after protesting in front of their station or whose contracts were not renewed.

The appellate court also declared them “regular employees” entitled to back wages and all benefits.

CA said that an employer-employee relationship existed between GMA-7 and the 51 “talents” despite the language of their talent agreements denying they were employees.

GMA-7 argued that the “creative talents” were independent contractors whose services can be terminated when they breach their contracts.

But in ruling that the “talents” were in fact regular employees, CA said GMA-7 did not consider any peculiar skill or uniqueness, talent or celebrity status in the process of hiring the employees.

They also did not have the power to renegotiate their fees and are at GMA-7’s mercy when it comes to renewing their contracts.

GMA-7 could also terminate them from work without need for due process and they were also required to comply with GMA’s demands for efficiency and quality of work.

Of the 51 ordered reinstated, GMA alleged that the 15 who staged a picket grossly and habitually neglected their duties by not reporting to work.

But CA rejected this argument saying GMA presented no other evidence they were habitually absent.

The Court also considered the 35 other employees whose contracts were not renewed to have been “constructively dismissed” because GMA did not offer to renew their contracts until after these have expired “interrupting the continuity of their service.”

One other employee was considered regular only from March to Sept. 2014 because he voluntarily resigned.

Meanwhile, CA ruled that another employee was legally dismissed because she embezzled funds while the 4-year period for filing an illegal dismissal complaint has lapsed in the case of another employee.

GMA-7 has yet to issue a statement.