What to do if my employer not paying for COBRA?

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What to do if my employer not paying for COBRA?

Our employer agreed to pay. However, we got a warning notice on 10/11/10. 68 of us were laid-off 10/29/10. Final check included 30 paid days to cover until 12/11/10. We were also paid 2 months of benefits which were also deducted on the check for November and December COBRA premiums. Benefits ended 10/31/10. Instead of forwarding payment to 3rd party administrator so there would be no lapse, they are sitting on it. Enrollment forms arrived 11/12/10. We returned ASAP (11/15/10). We demanded coverage be re-instated immediately but employer has not paid and will not pay until who knows when. They took the money from us already. Do we have to wait? Should we speak to an employment law attorney? In Los Angeles, CA.

Asked on November 18, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, an employer does NOT have to pay COBRA--it's simply that the former employee has the right to continue coverage by paying for it him/herself. If the employer contractually agreed to pay, such as part of a separation or severance agreement, that would be enforceable. However, an offhand promise made by a manager might not be, and if the agreement was oral, it could be very difficult to enforce (for example, it's difficult to even prove the existence or terms of an oral agreement if the other party denies it). You should discuss the matter with an attorney, preferably an employement law one, bringing with any/all documentation of the agreement, to see if the agreement is enforceable; if it is, you should be able to sue to force them to pay or otherwise for compensation. Even if there is no enforceable agreement, you should be able to recover amounts they took out allegedly for benefits.

However, in the meantime, you should give serious thought to paying the premiums yourself to avoid a lapse in coverage. Ensure your coverage while looking to see what recourse you have vs. the employer.


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