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Washington National Insurance Co. v. Board of Review of New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Commission

Decided: September 14, 1948.

WASHINGTON NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY, PROSECUTOR,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW OF NEW JERSEY UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION COMMISSION ET AL., DEFENDANTS



On writ of certiorari.

For the prosecutor, Frank S. Farley and Murray Fredericks.

For the defendants, Clarence F. McGovern and Charles A. Malloy.

Before Justices Donges, Colie and Eastwood.

Donges

The opinion of the court was delivered by

DONGES, J. This writ of certiorari was allowed to review five decisions of the Board of Review of the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Commission. The five cases are identical in their essential facts and have been consolidated. The prosecutor, Washington National Insurance Company, is engaged in the insurance business in this and most of the states of the country handling various forms of insurance, including ordinary life insurance, monthly and commercial health and accident insurance, industrial accident and health insurance and industrial life insurance. The individual defendants, who have been determined by the Board of Review to be entitled to the benefits of the Unemployment Compensation Act, are former agents of the prosecutor.

The controversy concerns the validity of and construction of R.S. 43:21-19, as amended by chapter 385 of the laws

of 1941. The portion of the statute in question reads as follows:

"(i) (7) The term 'employment' shall not include: * * *

"(J) Service performed by agents of insurance companies, exclusive of industrial life insurance agents, or by agents of investment companies who are compensated wholly on a commission basis."

The Board of Review held that the individual defendants were "industrial life insurance agents" and therefore are within the exception of the exclusion from the statute.

The prosecutor contends (1) that chapter 385 of the laws of 1941 is violative of both the federal and state constitutions; (2) that it has no application to the present case because its classification relates to the general character of the business of the employer rather than to the particular work done by the employee; (3) that the individual defendants herein were ...


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