Our law firm is litigating a class action lawsuit against Marriott International, Inc. (“Marriott”), Vazquez v. Marriott International, Inc., Case No.: 8:17-cv-00116-MSS-MAP (M.D. Fla., Tampa Division), on behalf of our client, a former housekeeper employed by Marriott from November 1998 until her termination on October 3, 2016, and about 15,000 class members.
By way of background, following her termination from Marriott our client received a notice issued pursuant to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (“COBRA”). Federal law requires employers to provide participants and beneficiaries in the Plan with adequate notice, as prescribed by COBRA, of their right to continue their health coverage upon the occurrence of a “qualifying event” as defined by the statute at their own expense. This is called COBRA coverage. An employer has 44 days after the end of a person’s employment to provide notice and essential details. 29 U.S.C. §1166(a)(2), (a)(4), (c). COBRA mandates that certain key pieces of information be included in all COBRA election notices sent to those participants and beneficiaries after a qualifying event. The Department of Labor has even provided a Model COBRA Election Notice which, unfortunately, many employers ignore. The penalty for non-compliance with COBRA, including its notice requirements, is up to $110 a day. 29 C.F.R. §2575.502c-1.
As set forth in the Vazquez v. Marriott International, Inc. First Amended Complaint, Marriott violated COBRA by failing to provide participants and beneficiaries in the Plan with an adequate election notice. First, the Marriott election notice did not adequately explain the procedures for electing coverage, as required by 29 C.F.R. § 2590.606-4(b)(4)(v). Second, nowhere throughout the entire Marriott COBRA election notice did Marriott identify the Plan Administrator. Third, Marriott was required to but failed to provide a COBRA notice written “in a manner calculated to be understood by the average plan participant … [including] the name, address and telephone number of the party responsible under the plan for administration of continuation coverage benefits.” 29 C.F.R. § 2590.606- 4(b)(4)(i).
Marriott moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint on April 24, 2017. But on August 25, 2017, the Court denied Marriott’s Motion to Dismiss. After engaging in discovery and motion practice, on August 7, 2018, the District Court granted our client’s Rule 23 Motion and certified the following class of individuals:
All participants and beneficiaries in the Defendant’s Health Plan who:
- were sent a COBRA notice by Defendant, in the form attached to the Motion as Exhibit A, during the applicable four-year statute of limitations period as a result of a qualifying event, as determined by Defendant, and
- did not elect continuation coverage.
According to Marriott, the class is comprised of over 15,000 individuals. This case is one of many COBRA election notice cases our firm is currently handling. If you believe that your former employer provided you with a deficient COBRA election notice, or if your former employer and/or COBRA plan administrator failed to provide you with any notice whatsoever, please contact one of our attorneys today.