Employment Law in North Dakota

If you have suffered treatment from an employer in North Dakota that violates employment laws, learning more about the law can help. Hiring an employment law attorney can best help you navigate the process, and increase the chances of winning your case.

What Is Employment Law?

Employment law covers the rights, responsibilities, and obligations within the employer-employee relationship. Employment lawyers serve both employees and employers, though they generally focus their practice on serving one or the other. Regardless of who their clients are, their goal is to present a solid case and defend them.

Understanding Employment Law Labor Rights in North Dakota

Employees have a wide range of rights that employers cannot violate. If employers violate these rights, workers can file a complaint against them. Each state has unique labor laws and some also make provisions for qualifying independent contractors. Below are the most common topics covered in employment law across the country.

Wage and Hour Laws

Laws protect non-exempt employees from being forced to work for low wages and a certain amount of hours without increased pay. These are the wage and hour laws. They outline the minimum wages an employee can earn as well as the maximum amount of hours worked before qualifying employees should get paid overtime.

North Dakota, like every other state, has unique wage and hour laws. However, there are federal laws in place that are minimum requirements for all states. For example, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, but most states exceed that amount.

The Fair Labor Standards Act states that non-exempt employees can only work 40 hours per week at their regular wage rates. If they exceed that number, the employer must pay them overtime rates at a minimum of time and a half. Some states also require weekend overtime pay, holiday pay, and overtime for working more than a certain number of hours each day.

According to North Dakota’s Department of Labor and Human Rights (DLHR), North Dakota’s minimum wage matches the current federal minimum of $7.25 per hour. Similarly, tipped employees’ total compensation must equal at least $7.25 per hour, including tips. Provided employers have a license from the DLHR, they can pay full-time or vocational students 85% of the minimum wage. Under North Dakota law, overtime pay must be paid at one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay. This means that the minimum overtime rate in North Dakota is $10.88 per hour. However, the overtime rate only applies to hours worked in excess of forty hours a week.

Workers’ Compensation

If you’ve been injured on the job in North Dakota, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This includes payments for lost wages and past or future medical bills that resulted from your workplace injury.

In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation, you must meet these requirements:

  • You must be an employee.
  • You must have a work-related illness or injury.
  • Your employer must carry workers’ comp insurance.
  • You must meet the deadline for filing workers’ comp claims.

There are, however, exceptions to these requirements that may still make you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, if your employer is denying you benefits, you should contact an experienced North Dakota attorney for assistance with your case.

Termination Rights under North Dakota Employment Law

If you live in an at-will state, or your employment is “at-will,” you can be terminated from your job without notice and without cause. However, even at-will employees have rights when it comes to termination. A violation of those rights can be wrongful termination.

Here are some reasons your termination might be wrongful even if you are an at-will employee:

  • Written promises or contracts
  • Implied promises
  • Violations of public policy
  • Breaches of good faith and fair dealing
  • Workplace retaliation
  • Discrimination
  • Defamation
  • Fraud
  • Whistleblowing violations

North Dakota was an early adopter of right-to-work laws, enacting this statute in 1947. This means a person’s right to secure employment is not conditional on union membership or payment of union dues. Separately, North Dakota is also an at-will employment state. This means an employment with no specified term may be terminated by either the employer or employee. Also, any reason, or no reason, may be given for this termination. However, an employer may not fire an employee based on an illegal reason. Such reasons may include discrimination, as defined by federal and state laws.

If you believe your termination was wrongful due to the above circumstances, then contact a qualified North Dakota employment law attorney right away. This is because there are time constraints on how long you can wait to file a claim.

Unemployment Benefits

If you’ve lost your job, you can file for unemployment benefits with the state unemployment agency. The agency will either approve or deny your claim. Then, after approval, you’ll receive monthly unemployment checks and benefits in the mail after filing weekly unemployment claims. Still, unemployment claims can be denied for a number of reasons, including:

  • If you were fired for misconduct.
  • You voluntarily quit your job.
  • You do not have enough earnings during the work period.

If your claim is denied, then you can appeal the decision if you think it’s the wrong choice. Working with an experienced North Dakota attorney during the appeal process can improve your chances of winning the case.

Paid and Unpaid Time Off

Additionally, some states require paid time off as well as medical and family leave for employees. Oftentimes, this is combined into one singular paid time off, (PTO), amount. Laws can vary state-to-state, but typically PTO is accrued over time and you’ll get a set amount of PTO days per year.

Some states have laws that force the employer to pay for unused PTO. If you are not given proper PTO or your employer doesn’t follow your state’s medical or family leave laws, you can file a complaint.

According to Helpside Inc., North Dakota does not currently have state laws that require employers to provide employees with sick leave, paid or unpaid. As well, there are no laws requiring employers to provide vacation time, either paid or unpaid. However federal laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act require North Dakota employers to provide leave in certain situations. For example, 12 unpaid work weeks of leave in a 12-month period may be legally taken by an employee for the birth of a child.

Child Labor Laws

Child labor laws are a lot more strict than regular labor laws and require employers to be extra careful when scheduling minors. Each state has its own child labor laws that outline the number of hours a minor can work per week. These include how often they should have breaks, how many days in a row they can work, and how late they can work each night.

Unlike some states, there are no restrictions on employment for youths aged 16 and older in North Dakota. The North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights (DLHR) enforces the limitations on the employment of teens aged 14 and 15. Specifically, they must file an Employment and Age Certificate with the DLHR. As well, teens aged 14 and 15 may only work between 7:00am and 7:00pm from Labor Day through May 31. These hours are extended to 9:00pm from June 1 through Labor Day.

North Dakota Employment Anti Discrimination Laws

A collection of federal anti-discrimination laws protect workers from employment discrimination. Following are brief descriptions of some of these anti-discrimination acts:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: Prohibits employers from selecting job applicants and employees based on race, religion, color, sex, and national origin.
  • Age Discrimination Act: Prohibits discrimination based on age for employees over the age of 40 years old.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act: Prohibits employers from discriminating based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act: Prohibits employers from discriminating against people with disabilities at any time during the application or hiring process or once the person holds the job.
  • Equal Pay Act: Requires employers to give men and women equal pay for equal work.

Sexual Harassment

If a coworker, employer, or client sexually harasses someone in the workplace; the employee has a set of rights to protect them from further harassment. Laws also offer protection from retaliation, such as getting fired for reporting a manager. If you or someone you know is facing sexual harassment in the workplace, report it to your HR department.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal in North Dakota. Specifically, it is considered a form of discrimination prohibited by both the federal Civil Rights Act and the North Dakota Human Rights Act. These laws cover both quid pro quo sexual harassment, and harassment that creates a hostile work environment. If you are a victim of sexual harassment, you may file a complaint with the North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights. However, you must file the complaint within 300 days from the last date of harm. 

Work With an Experienced North Dakota Employment Lawyer

If you have employment law concerns, or you’re currently preparing for a case in North Dakota, then working with an experienced attorney can help. The hard part is finding the right one. We can even help you connect with an attorney across North Dakota state lines.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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