COBRA Legal Expert, Advice, & Testimony
COBRA provides for the continuation of group health coverage when you quit, retire or are fired from a job that offered a qualifying plan. It can also be applied if your hours are reduced so that you no longer meet your employer’s criteria for plan eligibility. The only exception is dismissal for gross misconduct. While COBRA rules don’t define what gross misconduct is, some employment law experts suggest it be reserved “for criminal activities that can be proved,” according to an article in Compensation Daily Adviser (10.10.11). Other, less conservative experts cite being rude to a customer or willfully engaging in conduct that harmed the employer as justifiably sufficient to deny COBRA benefits. However, the same article cautions, that if your work hours were reduced as a disciplinary action for gross misconduct, you still qualify for COBRA benefits. The point here is that the gross misconduct standard is not carved in stone. If your COBRA benefits are denied, you may want to consult an employment law expert.