Drugmaker Cleared of COBRA Notice Wrongdoing

September 16, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A Delaware federal judge has thrown out part of a lawsuit filed by a former AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals employee over a required health coverage notice, but refused to dismiss the plaintiff's Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allegations.

US District Judge Kent Jordan of the US District Court for the District of Delaware cleared the prescription drugmaker of any wrongdoing in providing health coverage notice under the ConsolidatedOmnibusBudgetReconciliationAct ( COBRA ).

Jordan ruled that COBRA requires only a good faith effort to provide notice of COBRA rights and that AstraZeneca had no duty to ensure that plaintiff Marybeth Farrell received the election notice. Jordan   concluded that AstraZeneca, through its TPA, had made a good faith effort to notify the employee of her COBRA rights.

However, Jordan ruled that Farrell had put forth a strong enough case on allegations the company retaliated against her by disciplining and then firing her in January 2004 because of her FMLA complaints that the remainder of her suit should proceed.

Despite Farrell’s assertions that her work performance had not been questioned before the medical leave issue arose, the company claimed her supervisors had been having problems with her work for some time. Not only that, but the employer alleged that Farrell became hostile at work after she returned from her leave and that customers and clients complained about her behavior.

The ruling is  here