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Patel v. Board of Review

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


August 13, 2009

SHARADCHANDRA J. PATEL, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE AUTHORITY, RESPONDENTS.

On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 165,675.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 27, 2009

Before Judges Yannotti and LeWinn.

Claimant, Sharadchandra J. Patel, appeals from the January 24, 2008 final decision of the Board of Review (Board) denying his claim for unemployment benefits on the ground that he had "insufficient base year employment." For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

Claimant was employed by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (Authority) from May 2000 to July 2007 as a toll collector. On July 27, 2007, claimant was injured in an accident and went on medical leave. Claimant thereupon filed a claim for disability benefits during unemployment.

On September 24, 2007, the Division of Unemployment and Disability Insurance (Division) denied claimant's claim for the following reason:

Your employer New Jersey Turnpike Authority is not required to provide coverage for New Jersey [D]isability [I]nsurance because it is considered part of a local government or public institution. No payroll deductions were taken for New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance. Wages from this employer cannot be used to establish a disability claim.

On December 4, 2007, the Appeal Tribunal affirmed the Division's decision, noting that N.J.S.A. 43:21-27(b) defines a "[c]overed individual" for disability benefits purposes as "any person who is in employment . . . for which the individual is entitled to remuneration from a covered employer . . . ." The Appeal Tribunal concluded:

The claimant's employment with the [Authority] is not covered by New Jersey disability insurance. Since the claimant did not establish 20 base weeks nor earn at least $7,200.00 in covered New Jersey employment during the base year of the disability during unemployment claim dated 07/29/07, this claim is invalid under N.J.S.A. 43:21-4(e).

Claimant appealed to the Board, which affirmed the decision of the Appeal Tribunal on January 24, 2008. The Board found that the Authority was not obligated to provide disability insurance to claimant because it is not a "covered employer[,]" which N.J.S.A. 43:21-27(a)(1)*fn1 defines as:

any individual or type of organization . . . , who is an employer subject to the "Unemployment Compensation Law" (R.S. 43:21-1 et seq.), except the State, its political subdivisions, and any instrumentality of the State unless such governmental entity elects to become a covered employer under the "Temporary Disability Benefits Law" . . . .

Claimant acknowledged that throughout his employment with the Authority, his pay stubs never reflected any deductions for temporary disability or unemployment insurance. As the Board noted, since "there were no deductions made" for temporary disability insurance in claimant's paychecks, "it is evident that the employer did not elect such coverage."

Based on this record, we conclude that the Board correctly found that claimant failed to fulfill the requirements to establish eligibility for disability benefits, as the Authority was clearly not a "[c]overed employer" under the statute. We are satisfied that the Board's decision is based upon "sufficient credible competent evidence in the record," and, therefore, we must uphold that decision. Clowes v. TermineX Int'l., Inc., 109 N.J. 575, 587 (1988). We affirm substantially for the reasons stated by the Board in its final decision of January 24, 2008. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(D).

Affirmed.


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