Backdating of termination date

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My jurisdiction is: Pennsylvania

While looking into a friend's wage issue (thanks to those that answered that under the wage category) I've found a troubling issue with a co-worker of his.

This gentleman was terminated on 5/1/09, plenty of witnesses to this fact, documents signed on this date etc. He was informed at the time that his health insurance would continue until 5/30/09. Later in May he tried to refill a prescription and was informed his insurance was no longer valid. A call to the insurance company showed the records they received from the employer indicated he was terminated 4/29/09 and therefore had no May benefits. He has contacted HR from the old employer and they also say his termination was 4/29/09 and they will "look into the matter" of his "allegation against the company".

Is this sort of thing in any way legitimate? And, if I'm correct in thinking it isn't, what sort of recourse would he have? Who should he contact about this kind of thing?

Thank you very much for your insight.
This is not a question addressed by law, but by the terms of the insurance carrier. With a single exception, and that exception is not Pennsylvania, the law does not tell the employer when they may and may not cancel insurance. However, the law does require that they follow what is in the insurance policy, and that law is held to very rigidly.

Your friend is entitled by law to a copy of the plan document. He can request it and they MUST give it to him. He can then see for himself how the policy says that termination of coverage will be handled. If the termination of his coverage violates the terms of the policy, he can take legal recourse through the US DOL or possibly an attorney. If it does not, then it's a shame he was misinformed.

BTW, if his employer has more than 20 employees, he will be eligible for COBRA, and since he was involuntarily terminated, he will be eligible for the subsidy. COBRA MUST be retroactive to the cancellation date.
The health insurance is the primary thing this situation has messed up, but my question is more whether or not a company can legally backdate a termination date regardless of the resulting benefits issue.

And yes, we already confirmed that the health insurance would have been in force until the end of May had the termination date been correctly reported as 5/1/09.
Any action that your employer takes that limits your benefits - such as firing or disciplining you just as you are about to receive benefits - may be an ERISA violation and should be investigated and addressed. Under your employee benefit plan, you usually have the right to healthcare benefits, even when you have developed a major illness. You may have the right to collect disability or insurance benefits, even if your employer feels your problem does not warrant it. And as a vested employee, you may have the right to collect pension benefits, even though you have not worked for the company for decades.

ERISA present very unique legal issues. The standard of review depends on the kind of claim that is made. Recently, there have been a number of class action cases against employers who either bankrupt or diminish or alter benefit plans. The Ninth Circuit has provided some clarification on standard of review, but it is limited to a particular kind of benefit claim.
The law does not expressly prohibit a backdated termination, but there are unquestionably problems with it.

If you have confirmed that the insurance policy was violated by this action, and I'm not at all surprised, then report it to the US DOL. They take ERISA violations VERY seriously.
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