Can they give my boss health coverage, but not me?


My corporate employer offered health insurance to the director and assistant director of the company, but not to the lowest-paid employees. All of the workers here were orally promised health insurance, but the company never got around to providing it, and now claims it never promised health insurance in the first place. My coworkers and I do not fit the usual groups that are discriminated against as far as sex, age, religion, or race. It's more like status discrimination. Can you help?


It can be legal for an employer to provide coverage for some classes of workers, but not others. This sounds mean-spirited. After all, it usually means that coverage is denied to those who need it the most. The rationale is that upper-level employees may need additional enticements to join the company.

An oral promise from your employer can, however, create an enforceable contract -- especially if someone took the job because of this enticement -- so this is a significant fact. But now you are in the difficult position of having to prove that the promise was made -- a case of your word against your employer's. Proving this will, of course, be easier if many employees can testify to having received the same promise.

If you've already addressed this issue with your employer and documented the problem, your next step should be to talk to an attorney to find out whether that promise might legally qualify as a contract -- and whether you have a good chance of proving it in court.

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