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Burgum names new North Dakota labor commissioner

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Nathan Svihovec


Gov. Doug Burgum has named a new labor commissioner.

The governor on Tuesday announced his appointment of Bismarck attorney Nathan Svihovec to the job overseeing North Dakota's Department of Labor and Human Rights. Svihovec begins Thursday. 

He most recently served with a Bismarck-based law firm representing and advising employers and employees in various protected categories before the department, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, federal and state courts, and state administrative agencies, and representing employees in tribal employment matters, according to the governor's office. 

He was an assistant attorney general from 2017-20, representing and advising state agencies in employment law matters.

“Nathan’s deep knowledge of employment law, his background in representing both employers and employees in the private and public sectors, and his leadership and operational experience as an attorney and National Guard sergeant make him well-suited to lead the Department of Labor and Human Rights,” Burgum said in a statement. “As labor commissioner, his compassion and dedication to removing employment barriers, encouraging cooperative relationships between employers and employees, and ensuring fair treatment for all will serve the citizens of North Dakota well.”

Svihovec in a statement said, "I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve the needs of North Dakota employees and employers with the outstanding team at the Department of Labor and Human Rights. I look forward to building on the department’s efforts to leverage technology and improve processes to best serve North Dakotans with courtesy, respect, patience and empathy.”

He replaces Erica Thunder, who resigned in September to take a position in the state corrections system. Longtime Human Rights Director Kathy Kulesa served as interim labor commissioner this fall.

The department is responsible for enforcing state labor and human rights laws, educating the public about the laws, and licensing employment agencies operating in North Dakota.

Seven Burgum Cabinet members have announced departures since June. The Cabinet has 20 appointees.

Burgum since the start of 2021 also has appointed new leaders for the departments of Health, Corrections and Rehabilitation, Game and Fish, Parks and Recreation, Indian Affairs, Job Service, Commerce, and Transportation. 

Svihovec's annual salary will be $115,000. 

Are you being paid what you’re worth? You may want to start a conversation with your employer.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or


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