Workers claim Walmart skipped COBRA notice amid job cuts from COVID-19 – Community News

Workers claim Walmart skipped COBRA notice amid job cuts from COVID-19

Walmart’s logo is seen outside a new Walmart store in San Salvador, El Salvador, Aug. 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

  • Employees say they were not informed about government subsidized insurance
  • Walmart could face millions in fines under COVID relief law

(Reuters) – Walmart Stores Inc has been accused of failing to notify workers across the country who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic of their right to continue health insurance coverage paid temporarily by the government.

Former Walmart employee Elba Vazquez and her husband filed a proposed class action in federal court in Fort Myers, Florida on Wednesday, alleging that the communications the retail giant sent out this year had omitted important information, including that the federal government paid insurance premiums. would subsidize until September 30. under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP).

An Arkansas-based Walmart spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), employers must provide insurance coverage for up to 18 months after qualified employees lose their jobs, but can require employees to cover the premiums.

The ARP required companies to provide up to six months of free ongoing coverage, with costs offset by new tax credits.

Walmart, the largest private employer in the US with approximately 1.6 million employees, could be fined $110 per violation per day if found to have violated the notification requirements in the ARP.

The rural class proposed by Vazquez could include “hundreds or thousands” of people, according to the complaint.

The case is Vazquez v. Walmart Stores Inc, US District Court for the Middle District of Florida, No 2:21-cv-00848.

For the plaintiffs: Donna Smith of Wenzel Fenton Cabassa

For Walmart: Not Available

Daniel Wiessner

Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) reports on labor and employment law and immigration law, including litigation and policy making. He can be reached at [email protected]