In the beginning of June I started a new job in Dickinson, North Dakota. I thought that this was going to be a good job, with a good company. When I arrived to work at this oil field service company at 3:45 a.m. on a Monday morning, one thing after another went wrong. No supervisor showed up until 4:30 a.m., my supervisor was out for the week and he had left no instructions regarding me and my work. After phone calls were made, it was determined that I was supposed to drive a crane truck to a location two hours away, but the keys were missing, the crane truck was a mess and in no condition to drive, and the equipment on it that was needed that day was broken.
My instinct and my gut feeling was that I should say right then, “Hey, I don’t want to work here.” I could barely keep myself from telling the company that I had decided not to work there. It appeared to be so disorganized and unprofessional, with no planning or accountability. I needed the job, and the money, so I hung in there.
I got along with my co-worker/supervisor at the job site location two hours away. Within a couple of days, he was letting me do all the work on my own. His intention was that he would do the paperwork, and that I would do the physical work. This led to my co-worker/supervisor arriving at job locations a few hours late in the morning, and leaving a few hours early in the evening, because he was only doing paperwork, and I was doing the physical work which took all day.
It was hot, dirty, and tiring physical labor, and I would have liked some help, sometimes feeling like I was close to getting heat stroke. I was not supposed to be doing this work by myself according to the oil company safety rules. I did the work by myself, and I operated the crane truck on days when the wind was well over 30 mph, the cut off point to stop work. I broke these rules on many days in order to get work done.
I didn’t know that this oil field service company in Dickinson was not going to pay me. I had to wait for the two-week pay period to end, and then wait another ten days for a pay check to be made. On my second pay check, I was shorted 8-1/2 hours of overtime pay. I wrote a letter to the company payroll person, listing my hours, and explaining that I was shorted 8-1/2 hours of overtime pay.
My co-worker/supervisor telephoned the payroll person while I was sitting in his truck, and he went over the hours that I was shorted. Later that day, my co-worker/supervisor received a response from the payroll person, she said that the owner of the company had crossed out my hours, and wrote fewer hours, because he did not think that enough work was completed.
The owner of this company graduated from Dickinson State University with a degree in Business Administration, and he should know that it is illegal and unethical to not pay employees for hours worked. This says something about the owner of this company, Dickinson, Dickinson State University, and North Dakota. I have worked in Florida, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and Idaho, and I have never ever before had a company refuse to pay me for my work hours.
My co-worker/supervisor then had a fairly long telephone conversation with the owner of this company, and he believed that he had agreement from the company owner that everything would be taken care of, that I would be paid for the 8-1/2 hours of missing overtime pay. Because I was expecting to be paid this money, I continued working for this company.
This past weekend I received by e-mail, a work hours summary for my third pay check, and it was 12-1/2 hours short on overtime hours! I couldn’t believe it! Not only was I not being paid for the 8-1/2 overtime hours that I was already missing, they were taking away another 12-1/2 hours of overtime pay!
The company owner had left a week earlier to go on a two-week hunting trip in South America. This made me believe what my co-worker/supervisor and I had already suspected, that it was actually the company owner’s wife that was shaving work hours off my pay, claiming that I was not getting enough work done. The company owner is on a two-week hunting trip in South America that probably costs $15,000 to $20,000. The company owner’s wife is trying to steal $570 of my pay, because she thinks that I don’t deserve it. She and her husband are better than me, and I don’t deserve to be paid. The truth is that I have been doing all of the work by myself, and have been breaking the safety rules on many days to get the work done.
I looked the owner’s wife up on Facebook, and I saw that she attended the Catholic college in Bismarck, the University of Mary. Not only do the Catholics not learn right from wrong in the Catholic Church, they don’t even learn basic right and wrong, ethical and unethical, legal and illegal when the go to their University! It is illegal and unethical to not pay your employees for hours worked.
I looked on the North Dakota Department of Labor website on how to file a complaint against an employer for not paying wages. It wasn’t too much of a shock to me, that the North Dakota Department of Labor wants for employees to “ask for your wages”, and that they will later act as a “mediator”. The North Dakota Department of Labor should be a government regulatory agency that enforces law in North Dakota, not a mediator. Because the North Dakota Department of Labor is so easy going toward employers, there is a huge back log of cases. There is a recent Bismarck Tribune newspaper article that says people who filed a complaint against an employer in 2014, had to wait two years, Two Fucking Years!, for a case worker to even be assigned to their complaint.
North Dakota has got to be the most corrupt and backward state. Of course employers are not going to pay employees wages when they know that there is a two year wait before the complaint is even looked at. I telephoned the North Dakota Department of Labor, and there are four previous complaints for non payment of wages against the company that I work for. In other states, this might be grounds for revocation of business licenses, but in North Dakota, the company instead gets glowing and gushing newspaper articles about them from the Dickinson Press.
Dickinson could not be more proud of this husband and wife entrepreneur couple. The Dickinson Press newspaper has written several articles about them, how wonderful and successful they are. They believe that they are so wonderful and successful, that they don’t even have to pay me for the hours that I worked.
I went to the courthouse in Dickinson to find out about filing a small claims civil suit against the owner of this company for nonpayment of wages. I thought that I could win this case if the owner of this company had to personally appear in court. However, I was told at the courthouse that in North Dakota the defendant in a small claims case is allowed to be represented by an attorney, and not even appear.
I already know what this means, an expensive attorney that has practiced law for twenty years in Dickinson will be hired, a long time colleague of every judge in Dickinson, and I am just an out of state oil field worker, nobody. Just like my employer believes I am so insignificant that I don’t need to be paid my wages, the court judge will feel the same way in deciding between what his long time attorney colleague says, and what I say.
It has been my experience in Dickinson that the police are only successful in harassing people, not solving crime, the local courts do not work, the state courts do not work, Federal agencies like OSHA, the Department of Labor, Equal Opportunity Employment don’t even function in North Dakota. North Dakota has got to be the most corrupt and backward state.
I am very angry about not being paid, and there is not any legal way for me to do anything about this in North Dakota.