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COBRA payments post-layoff

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I worked for a short period (in California) for a disorganized and paycheck-bouncing nonprofit. Many employment promises were not kept (training, etc.).
I agreed to be laid off first of a group of layoffs. I was given one month's pay and six month's medical coverage as severance. I asked the ED repeatedly that this be put in writing but it was not.

Happily my COBRA was paid by the organization for the past five months. Unhappily, I received a letter yesterday asking me to reimburse them for those payments.

Can they ask for that money after they paid it according to our (verbal, no witnesses) agreement? Do their payments indicate that they did in fact make that agreement?

I called the ED last month to check on when I needed to take over the payments. She told me not to worry, it was taken care of for the next two months. Again, no witnesses, local call--no records (w/o supoena).

The letter stated that I was "terminated"--in truth I was laid off--and receive enemployment benefits based on layoff status.

What's going on here and what can I do?



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