What's Your Unpaid Wage Claim Worth in North Dakota?

Learn how to calculate what you're owed in unpaid wages and penalties in North Dakota.

Has your employer failed to pay you minimum wage or overtime or failed to give you meal breaks? If so, you may be able to recover unpaid wages and other compensation from your employer. Below, we explain common wage violations in North Dakota, how to calculate your unpaid wages, and how to pursue your wage claim.

Unpaid Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in North Dakota is the same as the federal rate: $7.25 per hour. If your city has a higher minimum wage, you are entitled to that amount.

If you didn’t receive the minimum wage, you can collect the difference between your hourly rate and the minimum wage for each hour worked. For example, suppose you worked full time for ten weeks in 2017 and received $6.25 per hour. You can collect the difference of $1 per hour ($7.25 - $6.25) for 400 hours (40 hours x 10 weeks), for a total of $400.

Unpaid Overtime

Consistent with federal law, North Dakota employers must pay employees time-and-a-half when they work more than 40 hours in a work week. (Exempt employees are not entitled to overtime pay. To learn more, see our article on which employees are exempt from overtime.)

If you didn’t receive the overtime rate, you can collect 50% of your regular rate per hour. For example, suppose you worked 45 hours during the week but only received your regular hourly rate of $10 per hour (for a total of $450). The last five of your hours should have been paid at the overtime rate of $15 per hour. So you should receive the difference of $5 per hour ($15 - $10) for five hours, for a total of $25 extra per week.

Meal and Rest Breaks

Under North Dakota law, employers must provide employees with a 30-minute unpaid meal break when they work more than five hours in a shift, as long as at least two employees are on duty. However, if you are required to perform any work during this break, it must be paid. Under federal law, employees must be paid for any breaks of 20 minutes or less or any breaks during which they are not completely relieved of their duties.

To calculate your unpaid wages, add up:

  • any breaks of more than 20 minutes that you were required to work through, and
  • any breaks of 20 minutes or less, whether you worked through them or not.

This time counts are hours worked, for which you must be paid. If the additional time results in overtime, you must be compensated at your overtime rate.

Other Common Wage Violations in North Dakota

North Dakota employers must also follow several other wage and hour requirements under federal and state law. Here are some other common wage violations by employers:

  • failing to pay you for work performed before you clock in or after you clock out
  • failure to pay earned bonuses or commissions
  • failure to provide a final paycheck on time, and
  • unauthorized deductions from wages, such as for the cost of uniforms or equipment, for cash shortages, or for property damage.

Penalties for Wage Violations in North Dakota

Federal law allows employees with minimum wage or overtime claims to collect an additional sum called “liquidated damages.” Liquidated damages are intended to compensate you for the delay in payment of your wages. You can collect 100% of your unpaid wages as liquidated damages. For example, if you are owed $1,000 in unpaid minimum wage and overtime, you can collect another $1,000, for a total of $2,000.

Under North Dakota law, employees can recover interest on unpaid wages and:

  • double the unpaid wages, if the employer has been found liable for two separate wage claims within the last year, or
  • triple the unpaid wages, if the employer has been found liable for three or more separate wage claims within the last year.

If you win your case, you might also be able to collect reasonable attorneys’ fees and legal costs.

Filing a Claim for Unpaid Wages in North Dakota

The quickest and easiest way to recover unpaid wages is often to file a wage claim with the North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights. The Department handles claims for unpaid wages, including unauthorized deductions and failure to pay minimum wage, overtime, or promised vacation. Before you file your claim, you must make an oral and written request for payment from your employer. If these efforts are not successful, you may complete a wage claim and mail it to the Department’s offices. (For more information on how to file a wage claim, see the Department’s website.)

Under state law, your wage claim must be filed within two years from the date the wages were owed. The same time limit applies to wage and hour lawsuits filed in court.

Hiring a Lawyer

You don’t need to hire a lawyer to file a claim with the North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights, although you may do so if you wish. Filing a lawsuit in court is a much more complicated process though, so you should consider hiring an employment lawyer, especially if you are claiming a large amount in unpaid wages. If you’re not sure which is the best route for you, consult with a lawyer first.


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