Labor and Employment Law Overview: North Dakota

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • North Dakota law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also provide pregnancy accommodations, equal pay and whistleblower protections. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • In North Dakota, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime, meal breaks and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • North Dakota has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including health care continuation, payment of wages, pay frequency, pay statements and wage deductions. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under North Dakota law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including jury duty leave, witness leave and volunteer emergency responder leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • North Dakota prohibits smoking in the workplace and using handheld wireless communication devices while driving, but permits guns in parking lots. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, North Dakota employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in North Dakota

North Dakota has laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including pregnancy accommodation rights and health care continuation coverage obligations for smaller employers, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as the minimum wage, overtime and jury duty leave.

Select North Dakota employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key North Dakota requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Fair Employment Practices

The North Dakota Human Rights Act (NDHRA) applies to employers in the state with one or more employees for more than one-quarter of the year and to employers, regardless of location, with one or more employees who work in the state. The NDHRA prohibits discrimination based on protected characteristics, such as:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • National origin;
  • Religion;
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related disabilities);
  • Disability (physical or mental);
  • Age (40 years or older);
  • Marital status;
  • Public assistance status; and
  • Engaging in lawful activity outside of work that is not in direct conflict with the essential business-related interests of the employer.

The NDHRA specifically prohibits sexual harassment. However, harassment based on any protected characteristic is a form of illegal discrimination under the NDHRA.

The NDHRA also prohibits retaliation against a person who opposes any unlawful discriminatory practice or who, in good faith, files a complaint, testifies, assists or participates in an investigation, proceeding, hearing or litigation under the Act.

Equal Pay

North Dakota's Equal Pay for Men and Women Act requires that men and women be paid equally for comparable work on jobs with comparable requirements with respect to skill, effort and responsibility. Differences in wages paid according to an established seniority system, a system that measure earnings by quantity or quality of production, a merit system or a bona fide factor other than gender (e.g., education, training or experience) are permissible.

Pregnancy Accommodation

The NDHRA requires a covered employer to provide reasonable accommodations for an otherwise qualified individual because she is pregnant. A reasonable accommodation means an accommodation that does not:

  • Unduly disrupt or interfere with the employer's normal operations;
  • Threaten the health or safety of the individual or others;
  • Contradict a business necessity of the employer; or
  • Impose an undue hardship on the employer.

Whistleblower Protections

Under North Dakota law, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for:

  • Refusing the employer's order to perform an action that the employee believes is illegal;
  • Reporting a violation or suspected violation of laws or regulations to the employer, a governmental agency or law enforcement; or
  • Participating in an investigation, hearing or inquiry.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in North Dakota can be found in the North Dakota Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): North Dakota, EEO - Discrimination: North Dakota, EEO - Harassment: North Dakota, EEO - Retaliation: North Dakota, Employee Discipline: North Dakota and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in North Dakota? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal and Employee Discipline: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key North Dakota requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

North Dakota's minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, the same as the federal minimum wage. Certain exceptions apply.

Overtime

North Dakota law generally requires an employer to pay covered employees overtime at a rate of one and one-half times the regular rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.

An employer must calculate overtime on a weekly basis regardless of the length of the pay period. Paid holidays, paid time off and sick leave are not counted in calculating overtime hours. Hours worked may not be averaged over the pay period or used to offset shorter weeks.

Meal Breaks

North Dakota law requires an employer to provide a meal period of at least 30 consecutive minutes if the following two conditions exist:

  • An employee works more than five consecutive hours; and
  • There are two or more employees on duty.

The meal period may be unpaid if the employee is completely relieved of duties the entire time.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in North Dakota restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

North Dakota law establishes a minimum age of 14 to be employed and restricts 14- and 15-year-olds from working in numerous occupations, including:

  • Cooking, baking, grilling or frying;
  • Manufacture, disposition or use of explosives;
  • Work in a mine or quarry;
  • Manufacture of goods for an immoral purpose;
  • Door-to-door sales of any kind;
  • Construction, with exceptions; and
  • Any other employment that may be considered dangerous to life or limb or in which health may be injured or morals depraved.

Minors are permitted to:

  • Do ordinary farm labor or operate farm machinery;
  • Work as a singer or musician in a church, school or academy, or in any school or home talent exposition given by the people of a local community; and
  • Act or perform in a theater or amusement park if permission is obtained from the minor's parent or guardian, and the Labor Commissioner determines that the minor's appearance will not be detrimental to the minor's morals, health, safety, welfare or education.

Minors who are 14 or 15 years of age may work:

  • From 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day);
  • Up to three hours per day on school days, or eight hours on nonschool days; and
  • Up to 18 hours a week during school weeks, or 40 hours during nonschool weeks.

North Dakota requires minors to have an Employment and Age Certificate to work.

Minors may be exempt from some or all child labor laws under certain conditions.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in North Dakota can be found in the North Dakota Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: North Dakota, Overtime: North Dakota, Hours Worked: North Dakota, Child Labor: North Dakota, North Dakota Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in North Dakota? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal, Hours Worked: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key North Dakota requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Health Care Continuation

Under North Dakota's health care continuation coverage law, an employer must offer up to 39 weeks of coverage to an employee and his or her covered dependents who lose coverage due to termination of employment or loss of eligibility under the plan. Coverage may last up to 36 months for an employee's former spouse and dependents in the event of a divorce or annulment. Unlike federal continuation coverage under COBRA, North Dakota continuation coverage is available regardless of the reason for the termination.

Payment of Wages

North Dakota requires that employees be paid either in cash or by checks that can be cashed in full at a bank convenient to the place of employment. Wages may be paid for direct deposit or electronic paycards if certain conditions are met.

Pay Frequency

North Dakota law requires an employer to pay all wages due to an employee at least once each calendar month on regular paydays specified by the employer in advance.

Pay Statements

With each wage payment, a North Dakota employer must provide each employee with a pay statement showing:

  • Hours worked;
  • Pay rate;
  • Deductions required by state and federal law; and
  • Any deductions authorized by the employee.

Wage Deductions

An employer may make deductions from employees' wages that are:

  • Required by state and federal law or court order;
  • Advances paid to the employee, other than undocumented cash; or
  • Authorized by the employee in writing, under certain circumstances.

A North Dakota employer may require an employee to purchase uniforms and may deduct the cost from the employee's pay if the cost does not bring the employee's wage below the hourly minimum wage for all hours worked during that pay period.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in North Dakota can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): North Dakota, Payment of Wages: North Dakota, Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: North Dakota and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in North Dakota? Federal requirements can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal, Payment of Wages: Federal and Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

North Dakota has a few laws relating to required time off and leaves of absence for employees, which cover all employers. These laws include:

  • Jury duty leave;
  • Witness leave; and
  • Emergency responder leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on time off and leaves of absence practices in North Dakota can be found in the North Dakota Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Jury Duty: North Dakota, Other Leaves: North Dakota, and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in North Dakota? Federal requirements can be found in Jury Duty: Federal and Other Leaves: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key North Dakota requirements impacting health and safety are:

Smoke-Free Workplace

North Dakota's prohibits smoking (including e-cigarettes) in all enclosed areas of places of employment. An employer must post appropriate signage.

Weapons in the Workplace

North Dakota employers may not:

  • Prohibit employees from keeping a legally owned firearm locked in a private vehicle in a company parking lot;
  • Inquire or search a vehicle with regards to the presence of a firearm;
  • Prohibit or prevent an employee from entering the parking lot or the employer's place of business because the employee's motor vehicle contains a legal firearm, which is being carried for lawful purpose and is kept of sight.

These prohibitions do not apply to motor vehicles owned, leased or rented by the employer.

Safe Driving Practices

In North Dakota, all drivers are prohibited from using a handheld wireless communication device to compose, read or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in North Dakota can be found in the North Dakota Employee Handbook Table of Contents, HR and Workplace Safety: North Dakota, Employee Health: North Dakota, Workplace Security: North Dakota, North Dakota Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in North Dakota? Federal requirements can be found in HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal, Employee Health: Federal and Workplace Security: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key North Dakota requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

Upon termination (either voluntary or involuntary), North Dakota law provides that all wages are due to the employee by the next regular payday. Involuntarily terminated employees may be paid by certified mail at an address designated by the employee or as otherwise agreed.

References

North Dakota employers that truthfully discloses the date of employment, pay level, job description, duties and wage history about a current or former employee to a prospective employer is generally immune from civil liability for the disclosure and the consequences of disclosing the information.

An employer may lose immunity if the information disclosed was:

  • Knowingly false;
  • Disclosed with reckless disregard for the truth;
  • Deliberately misleading;
  • Rendered with malicious purpose; or
  • Protected by a nondisclosure agreement or was otherwise confidential.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in North Dakota can be found in Payment of Wages: North Dakota, Employee Communications: North Dakota and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in North Dakota? Federal Requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.