ISAE v. Quisumbing G.R. No. 128845, June 1, 2000

Fact: Private respondent, the School, hires both foreign and local teachers as members of its faculty, classifying the same into two: (1) foreign-hires and (2) local-hires. The School employs four tests to determine whether a faculty member should be classified as a foreign-hire or a local hire. Should the answer to any of four tests queries point to the Philippines, the faculty member is classified as a local hire; otherwise, he or she is deemed a foreign-hire. The School grants foreign-hires salary rate twenty-five percent (25%) more than local-hires. The School justifies the difference on two “significant economic disadvantages” foreign-hires have to endure, namely: (a) the “dislocation factor” and (b) limited tenure. When negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement were held on June 1995, petitioner International School Alliance of Educators, “a legitimate labor union and the collective bargaining representative of all faculty members” of the School, contested the difference in salary rates between foreign and local-hires. This issue eventually caused a deadlock between the parties. Petitioner filed a notice of strike. The failure of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board to bring the parties to a compromise prompted the DOLE to assume jurisdiction over the dispute. DOLE Acting Secretary, issued an Order resolving the parity and representation issues in favor of the School. Then DOLE Secretary Leonardo A. Quisumbing subsequently denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration in an Order dated March 19, 1997. Petitioner now seeks relief to the Supreme Court.

Issue: Whether Foreign-hires are also paid a salary rate twenty-five percent (25%) more than local-hires is an invalid and unreasonable classification and violates the Equal Protection Clause.

Held:  Yes, Discrimination, particularly in terms of wages, is frowned upon by the Labor Code. The foregoing provisions impregnably institutionalize in this jurisdiction the long honored legal truism of “equal pay for equal work.” Persons who work with substantially equal qualifications, skill, effort and responsibility, under similar conditions, should be paid similar salaries. This rule applies to the School, its “international character” notwithstanding. The School contends that petitioner has not adduced evidence that local-hires perform work equal to that of foreign-hires. The employer in this case has failed to show evidence that foreign-hires perform 25% more efficiently or effectively than the local-hires. Both groups have similar functions and responsibilities, which they perform under similar working conditions. In this case, the court find the point-of-hire classification employed by respondent School to justify the distinction in the salary rates of foreign-hires and local hires to be an invalid classification. There is no reasonable distinction between the services rendered by foreign-hires and local-hires. The practice of the School of according higher salaries to foreign-hires contravenes public policy and, certainly, does not deserve the sympathy of the Court.


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