One of the purposes of this blog website, is to inform people from out of state what living in Dickinson, North Dakota is like. One of the most important things that I can tell people who are planning on moving to Dickinson, North Dakota, is to be prepared for local companies in Dickinson to not pay wages that are owed.
I am 48 years old, and I have worked in Florida, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and North Dakota. The only time that I have not been paid wages owed, is here in Dickinson, North Dakota.
I have already written a couple of blog posts about my previous employer in Dickinson, a local oil field service company with about seventy employees, that had failed to pay me for all the hours that I had worked, which amounted to approximately $630 in unpaid wages owed by the time that I received my third pay check. I had to contact the North Dakota Department of Labor, and then go and get the Small Claims Court paper work at the Court House to file a civil suit against this employer before they agreed to pay me the wages that I was owed.
The Bismarck Tribune newspaper wrote an article approximately one year ago, stating that the Department of Labor in North Dakota has been overwhelmed with non-payment of wages cases, mostly from Western North Dakota. This is why I realized that the Small Claims Court would be a quicker, surer way to get the money that I was owed.
Now, for my most recent employer, another local Dickinson company with about seventy employees, the person that hired me told me that I would be paid $20 per hour. There was no negotiating or discussion, this is what I was offered, and this is what I accepted. I was told that I would be working every day, for twelve hours per day, for approximately the next month. This worked out to about $2,000 per week, and $8,000 per month.
The work was very hard physical labor. I have had above average strength and stamina for most of my life, but I am 48 years old now, and I am not as physically strong as I used to be. I did not know if I could hand dig, pound stakes with a sledge hammer, lift, and carry heavy things all day long, for twelve hours a day, day after day after day. It was very difficult for me, but I did it, I wanted the $2,000 per week.
I received two other job offers shortly after accepting this job, but I politely declined both of these job offers, explaining that I had already accepted another job, and was sticking with it because it paid $2,000 per week, otherwise I would have liked to have worked for their company.
After working for sixteen days straight, I received my first pay check direct deposited to my checking account on this past Friday. The check was for much less money than it should have been. One of the reasons why it was less than it should have been, was because I was being paid at $18 per hour, not $20 per hour as I was offered and accepted when I was hired.
I was very, very angry about this, in part, because I was not paid wages owed by my previous local employer here in Dickinson, I had to threaten to take them to court to get all of my unpaid wages, and now this same thing is happening to me again. I was angry because it was very hard physical labor for twelve hours each day, and I was expecting to be paid $2,000 per week. I was angry because I had declined two job offers from other companies because I was expecting to be paid $2,000 per week at this company.
I do not yet know who/how/why I was not paid what I was told, what I accepted, and what I agreed to. I considered not going to work Saturday morning, this morning, because I was so angry. But I thought that perhaps it was a simple mistake, that the company would be willing to resolve.
I went to work this Saturday morning. By 12 noon, approximately four of the ten workers present, left for the remainder of the day, with various excuses, whether they were legitimate reasons or not. I was still so angry about not being paid what I was owed, that I thought that perhaps the best thing for me to do, would be to say that I was sick, and to go home for the remainder of the day, lest I lose my temper at someone, or over something.
At approximately 1:00 p.m., a foreman named Mike, who was not my foreman, who I had never met, and who I had never worked for, drove by my work truck and called me out on the radio, “Why are you sitting in your truck?!” I replied, “I just got in my truck to move it forward, my foreman is on the loader behind me, watching me and what I am doing, are you my foreman, or is Jeremy?” Mike replied, “We are all your foreman.” My foreman who was one hundred feet behind me on the loader, and the superintendent remained silent, and didn’t object.
I could tell from foreman Mike’s demeanor, that he was going to try to assert some kind of master-slave work conditions on me for the remainder of the day. I had worked for the past sixteen days straight, without complaint, mistake, mishap, or problems with my co-workers, foreman, and superintendent. I tried to get along with these twelve people, to do what they wanted, to work in agreement, to work in cooperation, to keep up with them, to do as much or more of the work, and to help them in their work. My co-workers, my foreman, and the superintendent were with me throughout the day, every day. If anything needed to be done, I took direction from my co-workers, my foreman, and the superintendent. I did not need, and it was not a good idea, for someone outside of this work group, who did not know me or anything about me, who was not aware of what I had been instructed to do, to drive by or drive up and get on me about my work.
I couldn’t believe, and I didn’t like, that I was not being paid what I had been told, and that my foreman and the superintendent were not sticking up for me when another foreman was trying to get on me about my work. I told my co-worker that I was quitting, to get in the truck, I will drive back to the yard and that he could take the truck. I told my foreman that I was quitting because I was not being paid what I was told, and that I didn’t like being fucked with by someone who doesn’t know me, who I have never met, and who I have never worked for. I drove to the yard, and I told the superintendent the same thing.
Neither my foreman or the superintendent cared very much. They could not care less. This was not much of a surprise to me. Nor will it be much of a surprise to me when the person who hired me, fails to acknowledge that he told me that I would be paid $20 per hour. This is why I will file a Small Claims civil court case against the owner of the company for the wages that I am owed.
When I file a Small Claims civil court case against the owner of the company personally for wages that I am owed, there will be a permanent record of the case for everyone to see and look up. The owner of the company will be served the court papers at his company office by a Sheriff Deputy, and his reaction will be, “What the fuck is this shit?!” Then, the “I could not care less” attitude will stop, and be replaced with “I wish that I would not have done that.”
The owner of the company can appear personally on the court date and defend himself against my claim for unpaid wages, and hear what happened to me, which is fine with me. Or, the owner of the company can hire an attorney to represent him in court, which will cost him at least $750 in attorney’s fees, plus the unpaid wages that I am owed, which is fine with me. Or, the owner of the company can not show up in court, not be represented by an attorney, and I will be awarded a default judgement for the unpaid wages that I am owed, which is fine with me. In all three scenarios, there will be a record of the judgment against this employer for everyone to see and look up.
If you come to Dickinson, North Dakota, I advise you to be aware that the local companies here in Dickinson will attempt to not pay you the wages that you are owed. I recommend that before you accept a job with a local company here in Dickinson, that you look up the owner of the company on the North Dakota Court Record Repository, “NDCourts” to see what kind of person they are. I also recommend contacting the North Dakota Department of Labor to ask how many complaints the employer has for nonpayment of wages.