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Forums For Adjudicating Employment Disputes

There are no specialised labour courts in North Dakota. Employment disputes may be adjudicated in either federal or state courts, depending upon the legal claims involved. Unemployment law, workers’ compensation, federal discrimination claims and certain other disputes are handled first in administrative agencies, with appeal or other court action available in various federal and state courts.

The Main Sources Of Employment Law

All employment arrangements are governed by general common law principles of contract and tort law, but there are legislative requirements which override those general principles in some instances. Individual contracts (whether written or oral), collective bargaining agreements and common practice all form part of any contractual relationship. The main sources of statutory employment law are found in § 14 and § 34 of the North Dakota Century Code.

National Law And Employees Working For Foreign Companies

Statutory rights apply to all individuals physically working in North Dakota, regardless of nationality, and regardless of the law governing their contract of employment. Contractual law may also apply in appropriate cases.

National Law And Employees Of National Companies Working In Another Jurisdiction

Federal law generally applies to all employees working in the United States and, in some circumstances, to employees outside of the United States who work for U.S.-based companies. Whether or not a particular employer is covered by federal law typically depends on the size of the employer.

Data privacy

North Dakota has a general data breach notification statute requiring businesses to notify affected individuals of any security breach involving personal information. Personal information includes an individual’s name combined with one or more data elements, such as a social security number, driver’s license number, or bank account number with a code allowing access to the account.

Legal Requirements As To The Form Of Agreement


Mandatory Requirements
  • Trial Period
  • None

  • Hours Of Work
  • Under North Dakota’s overtime law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, an employee classified as “non-exempt” who works more than 40 hours per week must be paid overtime compensation at one -and -one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay. Under both laws, however, employers need not pay overtime to employees classified as “exempt.”

  • Special Rules For Part-time Work
  • No special rules for part-time work.

  • Earnings
  • The minimum wage for employees in North Dakota is USD $7.25 per hour.

  • Holidays/Rest Periods
  • North Dakota does not require private employers to offer employees paid vacation, but if offered, such paid time off is considered wages and therefore is due and owing upon separation from employment. Employees who work more than a 5-hour shift are entitled to a 30-minute meal time. Rest breaks are not required but must be paid breaks if they are offered. Retail employees are entitled to one 24-hour period of rest in every 7-day period.

  • Minimum/Maximum Age
  • A minor aged 14 or 15 years old may generally not be employed except in farm labour, domestic services, or with a parent or guardian’s supervision. North Dakota has no maximum age for employment.

  • Illness/Disability
  • There are no state requirements for employers to deal with illness or disability. If sick leave is offered and maintained separately from paid time off, it does not need to be paid upon separation from employment.

  • Location Of Work/Mobility
  • None.

  • Pension Plans
  • None.

  • Parental Rights (Pregnancy/ Maternity/ Paternity/ Adoption)
  • None.

  • Compulsory Terms
  • No requirements.

  • Non-Compulsory Terms
  • Non-compete agreements are generally unenforceable in North Dakota except in a sale of the goodwill of a business or in the dissolution of a partnership.

Types Of Agreement

North Dakota does not provide different rules for different types of individual employment agreements. Collective bargaining agreements in the private sector are generally subject to the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board under the federal labour law known as the National Labor Relations Act, which requires that where a union has been certified to represent employees, the union and the employer must bargain in good faith on terms and conditions of employment and other matters. In addition, certain provisions of such agreements are considered unlawful subjects for bargaining.


Typically, issues relating to confidentiality and trade secret protection are addressed in written employment agreements or employee policies. In the absence of such agreements, employer’s trade secret information may be afforded protection under common law. North Dakota has adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

Ownership of Inventions/Other Intellectual Property (IP) Rights

In the absence of a written agreement between the parties, ownership of IP rights are determined by federal law.

Pre-Employment Considerations

North Dakota law does not address pre-employment drug testing. However, North Dakota law does prohibit pre-offer inquiries into an applicant’s health history. North Dakota law does not prohbit background checks on job applicants.

Hiring Non-Nationals

There are no specific rules unique to North Dakota regarding hiring of non-nationals. Federal law exclusively governs the hiring of non-nationals. Under federal law, employers may hire non-nationals only if they are authorized to work in the United States; but may not discriminate against any person so authorized on the basis of his or her national origin. Authorization to work in the United States may be granted as a direct result of immigration status or may require the non-national and/or employer to apply individually for employment authorization.


Hiring Specified Categories Of Individuals

There are restrictions on the types of work that children can be required to undertake.

Outsourcing And/Or Sub-Contracting/Temporary Agency Work

There are no restrictions placed on outsourcing and subcontracting, unless a collective bargaining agreement contains such restrictions. In such cases, the agreement would be governed by the federal labour law as noted above.

Changes To The Contract

The employment relationship is presumed to be on an “at will” basis, the terms of which employers are free to change on a prospective basis. If the employment relationship is subject to a written contract, the consent of both parties may be necessary in order to make changes to the terms.

Change In Ownership Of The Business

North Dakota does not have any rules modifying employers’ obligations under the federal WARN Act. Employees are not allowed to refuse a change in ownership of the business unless the employee has a contractual right to object to the change.

Social Security Contributions

Federal law provides for compulsory social security contributions by both employer and employee.

Accidents At Work

North Dakota’s workers’ compensation system is administered by an employer-financed, no-fault insurance state fund. All employers must purchase workers’ compensation insurance from the state fund. Compensable injuries are those arising in the course of hazardous employment.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

North Dakota does not prohibit pre-employment drug tests on job applicants.

Medical marijuana is legal in North Dakota. However, employers are not prohibited from disciplining employees for consuming marijuana in the workplace.

Discipline And Grievance

Unless a collective bargaining agreement or a specific contract provision applies, state and federal law do not govern discipline or grievance procedures. Employers are free to adopt such policies as they see fit.

Harassment/Discrimination/Equal pay

North Dakota Human Rights Act prohibit discrimination in employment based upon race, colour, religion, sex, national origin, age (over 40 years old), the presence of any mental or physical disability, status with regard to marriage or public assistance, or participation in lawful activity off the employer’s premises during non-working hours that is not in direct conflict with the employer’s essential business-related interests. The Act does not apply to independent contractors.

Compulsory Training Obligations

There are no rules relating to compulsory training obligations.

Offsetting Earnings

Except in limited circumstances, such as a court-ordered deduction for payment of outstanding child support obligations or advances paid to employees, employers generally may not make deductions from wages for a claimed indebtedness without written authorization from the employee at the time of the deduction.

Payments For Maternity And Disability Leave

There are no state requirements for employers to make payments for maternity or disability leave.

Compulsory Insurance

Employers must participate in insurance plans for work-related injuries and for unemployment.

Absence For Military Or Public Service Duties

North Dakota employers are encouraged to allow employees to leave work to vote but they are not required to do so. North Dakota law prohibits penalizing an employee for taking leave for jury duty. Federal law provides leave for certain military service members, family members, and caretakers.

Works Councils or Trade Unions

Under federal law, employees can force an employer in certain limited circumstances to recognize a union. Individuals who engage in concerted activities are protected from retaliation.

Employees’ Right To Strike

Under federal law, groups of employees may strike even if there is not a collective bargaining agreement or a formal union at the site of employment, subject to limits for public services.

Employees On Strike

Under federal law, an employer can hire and employ temporary replacements for striking workers. The employer also has a somewhat more limited right to permanently replace striking workers. Workers cannot, however, be fired because they have gone on strike or have otherwise engaged in protected concerted activity.

Employers’ Responsibility For Actions Of Their Employees

Employers may be vicariously liable to third parties for tortious acts committed by employees within the scope of their employment duties. In addition, employers may be directly liable for their own negligence in failing to ascertain an employee’s propensity to inflict injury.

Procedures For Terminating the Agreement

Unless otherwise specified in a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract, there are no specific rules relating to the specific forum for terminating the agreement or specific procedures which have to be followed.

Instant Dismissal

Employment is presumed to be on an “at will” basis, unless there is a collective bargaining agreement or an employment agreement that provides for employee protection(s) against instant dismissal.

Employee's Resignation

An agreement can be terminated by the employee’s resignation.

Termination On Notice

No minimum period of notice is required unless specified in a written employment agreement or collective bargaining agreement. Under federal law workers must be given 60 days’ notice prior to certain plant closures or mass layoffs.

Termination By Reason Of The Employee's Age

Employers are generally forbidden from terminating employees by reason of the employee’s age, except in very limited circumstances.

Automatic Termination In Cases Of Force Majeure

Agreements may be automatically terminated in cases of force majeure. However, such instances are very rare and unlikely to apply in all but the most exceptional circumstances.

Collective Dismissals

No state laws governing workforce reductions.

Termination By Parties’ Agreement

The parties are free to agree to terminate on any grounds they desire, except for a reason which would violate a law or public policy.

Directors Or Other Senior Officers

There are no separate rules for terminating directors or other senior officials. However, in the case of a director, termination of employment does not automatically bring an end to board membership.

Special Rules For Categories Of Employee

There are no other categories of employees for whom special rules apply on termination.

Whistleblower Laws

North Dakota employers may not retaliate against employees who in good faith report a violation of a law, ordinance, or regulation to an employer, governmental body, or law enforcement official.

Specific Rules For Companies in Financial Difficulties

There are no specific rules in North Dakota which apply when a business gets into financial difficulties. However, a bankruptcy court may impose requirements in specific cases.

Special Rules For Garden Leave

No special rules for garden leave.

Restricting Future Activities

Non-compete agreements are generally unenforceable in North Dakota except in a sale of the goodwill of a business or in the dissolution of a partnership

Severance Payments

Severance payment is not required. When severance is offered, it is frequently made as part of an agreement which includes the employee’s waiver of all legal claims against the employer.

Special Tax Provisions And Severance Payments

Severance payments are normally taxed as wages.

Allowances Payable To Employees After Termination

Only as taxes paid to the unemployment compensation fund.

Time Limits For Claims Following Termination

The time limits vary depending upon the nature of the claim. The general limitation period for claims under North Dakota law is 10 years after the occurrence of the alleged unlawful act. The limitation period for breach of contract is 6 years. The limitation period for intentional torts is generally 2 years.

Specific Matters Which Are Important Or Unique To This Jurisdiction

There are no other specific matters which are important or unique to North Dakota.

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Contact a Contributing Author:
Neil Goldsmith
Lathrop GPM
United States

Dion Farganis
Lathrop GPM
United States


© 2021, Lathrop GPM. All rights reserved by Lathrop GPM as author and the owner of the copyright in this chapter. Lathrop GPM has granted to Multilaw non-exclusive worldwide license to use and include this chapter in this guide and to sublicense Lexis Nexis, a division of RELX Inc. and its affiliates certain rights to use and distribute this Guide.

The information in the How to Hire and Fire Guide provides a general overview at the time of publication and is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all legal developments nor should it be taken as opinion or legal advice on the matters covered. It is for general information purposes only and readers should take legal advice from a Multilaw member firm.

Publication Date: June 2021