Hypothetical Scenario (in the US):
Susan's employer, MoneySavers, offers COBRA to employees who separate from the company. Susan has given her two weeks' notice (she has quit her job) and will soon have her last day. She works in an open office without cubicles and little conversational privacy.
Susan asks Emily, an HR representative (at Emily's desk) how/when Susan might receive COBRA paperwork. Susan expects to hear something like, "You'll receive it in the mail within 4 weeks."
Instead, Emily responds, "Are you planning on using COBRA?"
Emily continues, "You have to elect if you are going to use COBRA," with the implication that Susan needs to answer "yes" or "no" immediately.
Several co-workers hear the conversation and add their own comments. One co-worker, Mike, the CFO, who arranged MoneySavers COBRA program, adds, "Susan, no former employee would ever plan to use COBRA."
Susan admittedly could have tried to make her conversation more private and her co-workers could have been more prudent in their comments. However, were any laws violated here?
Specifically, was it lawful for Emily to ask Susan, before she has left MoneySavers, if she will elect to use COBRA?
If it were lawful for Emily to ask, would it need to be asked in a private setting? What other legal issues are at play in this situation?
Financial (Not Legal) Factors:
Susan is still employed and thus could be treated differently in her last two weeks depending on how she responds because MoneySavers cuts costs whenever possible.
More context: In this specific scenario, MoneySavers may incur costs if an employee elects COBRA because of a health reimbursement (HRA) program it offers.
Financial question: Does anyone know if an employee elects COBRA, and then incurs a large claim while on COBRA, could increase MoneySavers health insurance renewal rate for the next year? Normally, health insurance claims made by current employees can increase MoneySavers health insurance renewal rate.