A former Southwest Airlines employee claims in a proposed class action that she was not provided with proper notice of her right to continued health insurance coverage after being terminated.
Filed against the Southwest Airlines Co. Board of Trustees, the 14-page lawsuit out of Florida explains the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) mandates that employers have 44 days after the end of an individual’s employment to provide notice and “essential details” of their right to COBRA insurance coverage.
The plaintiff alleges that Southwest not only failed to send a COBRA notice within 44 days of her May 2019 termination but omitted “critical pieces of information” from the form that ultimately left her “confused and misled.”
The case claims that although Southwest had access to a model COBRA notice issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, the defendant chose to include only certain parts of the model form, presumably as a cost-cutting measure aimed at steering former employees away from electing COBRA coverage. Among the omitted information, the suit alleges, was the date of the plaintiff’s qualifying event, the name of the insurance plan, and the identity of the plan administrator.
Moreover, the plaintiff claims the notice, which she finally received in August 2019, was not written “in a manner calculated to be understood by the average plan participant” as required by law.
As a result of the defendant’s “confusing and incomplete” COBRA form, the plaintiff “did not understand the notice” and was ultimately unable to elect COBRA coverage, the case claims. According to the suit, the plaintiff not only lost health insurance but was forced to forego required medical treatment due to the lack of coverage.
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