Q: Cancelled cancer surgery due to Covid 19, shortly after laid off, now surgery is no longer covered?
Legal question. My father in-law was terminated from employment on April 17th due to Covid (or discrimination that he has cancer). He was diagnosed with prostrate cancer in the fall of 2019 and scheduled surgery on March 23 that was canceled due to covid and re-scheduled to June 12th. He is now unemployed and his employer is now off the hook to pay for the insurance premium for his cancer surgery. Cobra is over $2,000/mon and unaffordable. Should he seek counsel for this or is it just what it is? Thank you
A: Employees in Connecticut are generally considered at-will employees, which means that either the employer or employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason or no reason. Absent a contractual or legal prohibition (i.e. a discriminatory purpose), including a collective bargaining agreement, employers may terminate an at-will employee at any time. An employer must still remain compliant with company obligations pursuant to internal policies and employment contracts if it terminates an employee. For example, company policy or other contracts may provide that your father-in-law is entitled to severance, insurance coverage, or other post-employment benefits in the event of termination. Furthermore, all terminations must be compliant with applicable laws in that they may not be based on a discriminatory ground.
It will be important to discuss with an employment attorney the specific details of your father-in-law’s case to determine if he may have potential arguments for a severance agreement and/or a wrongful termination claim. Specifically, it will be important to know what position your father-in-law held and with what employer, what the employer knew about your father-in-law’s cancer and upcoming surgery, whether he requested any paid time off or FMLA, and whether other employees were terminated for COVID-19 related reasons.
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