June 22, 2010
Former Williams College Professor Denied COBRA Coverage Due to Gross Misconduct
Filed under: News
Vision Payroll

An Assistant Professor in the Williams College (Williams) Political Science Department was denied continuing health insurance coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) after Williams terminated his three-year teaching contract “for cause because of his guilty plea [to student aid fraud, bank fraud, and social security fraud], his failure to notify [Williams] of the crimes and subsequent plea, fraudulent credentials he had supplied to Williams…in seeking employment, and his misuse of a Williams…credit card.”

In Moore v. Williams, DCMA, 09cv30208, 4/7/2010, the court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, thereby closing the case. Under COBRA, terminated employees may elect to continue their health care coverage, generally at their own expense. An exception disallows COBRA coverage when an employee is terminated for gross misconduct. Although the court stated that there are no regulations defining gross misconduct for this purpose, “The conduct in this case is sufficiently outrageous to constitute gross misconduct, and while it did not arise from an ‘evil design’ to harm [Williams], it indicated a reckless disregard for [Williams’s] interests.”

Due to the clear lack of standards to determine gross misconduct for COBRA purposes, Vision Payroll strongly recommends that employers consult with a competent labor law attorney for assistance in deciding if COBRA coverage should be denied because of gross misconduct.


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