THE Court of Appeals (CA) has found that the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) acted within its authority in holding Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (INEC) not liable for the dismissal of a maintenance worker.

In a decision dated Nov. 11 and made public on Nov. 14, the CA Fifth Division said the NLRC did not abuse its discretion in finding that the power firm’s dismissal was valid.

“We see no indication or any submission in the petition that the court may examine to determine how the NLRC acted capriciously and whimsically or in total disregard of evidence material to the controversy,” said the appellate court.

The commission earlier held that INEC did not act in bad faith when it ruled the employee was no longer qualified to perform his maintenance duties.

The electric cooperative first hired the employee as a driver in 2009 and terminated his employment in 2013, which led to an illegal dismissal complaint filed the following year.

The NLRC had ruled in favor of the former employee and ordered his reinstatement as driver, with back pay.

INEC then reassigned him to its mini hydroelectric power plant in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte as a maintenance helper in the pole farm department.

The electricity distributor noted that the reassignment did not affect his salary.

It also argued that a leg injury sustained by the employee rendered him incapable of performing the duties of a driver.

The maintenance position was later made redundant when the power plant was automated.

The NLRC found that the reassignment was not a demotion since benefits and pay remained the same.

The appellate court said the cooperative duly notified its employees about the redundancy plan when it automated the power plant.

“It cannot be said that INEC’s redundancy program was unfair or unreasonable,” the CA said. “It was within the ambit of its management prerogative.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez