Civil Rights Enforcement Efforts in North Dakota

Chapter 4

Business Perspectives on Discrimination  

Greater North Dakota Association

Dale Anderson, president of the Greater North Dakota Association (GNDA), explained to the North Dakota Advisory Committee that the association represents businesses of all sizes and types throughout the State.[1] The GNDA is made up of a 25-member board of directors that researches issues in the areas of taxation, human resources, and public policy. The association makes recommendations, while the board of directors establishes policy. The association, Mr. Anderson said, “is proactive and believes in providing equal opportunity to employees without regard to age, sex, reproductive rights, race, marital status, color, national origin, religion, disability, and military affairs.”[2] The Greater North Dakota Association believes that research and access to the most current information are essential for employers to provide equal employment opportunities for employees. To that end, the association endorses and markets resource materials that are helpful to employers in accomplishing those goals. These include:

  1. Materials, updated annually, that address employment discrimination, the Americans with Disabilitie Act, and Federal employment laws and regulations and how to comply with the laws.

  2. A human resources letter available to employers on a monthly basis containing updates on new activities (Federal and State) and the most current information about employment issues.

  3. A toll-free resources hotline to provide accurate answers to questions about daily human resources issues, including discrimination.

  4. GNDA-conducted conferences and seminars in conjunction with local chambers of commerce.

  5. Educational programs through an interactive on-line computer program.

The Greater North Dakota Association over the past several years has also actively participated in a program called Business Challenge, which focuses on work force training, and is coordinated by the association, Dickinson State University, and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. The Greater North Dakota Association has worked with over 6,000 students and educators, with more than 65 percent of the participants being women.[3]

Other programs mentioned included the Job Training Partnership Act through the Governor’s Employment Training Forum where the Greater North Dakota Association focuses to develop an awareness of nontraditional opportunities for women, literacy issues, apprenticeship, and school-to-work transition. Members of the Governor’s ADA Consortium participate by making employers aware of the opportunities through the Americans with Disabilities Act.[4]

Mr. Anderson addressed the extent of discrimination in North Dakota by stating that his organization has not conducted any surveys to measure the extent of employment discrimination nor have complaints or acts of employment discrimination been called to their attention.[5] He said the enforcement mechanisms—North Dakota Department of Labor, the EEOC, district courts, and small claims courts—are “plenty” and there are “adequate opportunities” for dealing with discrimination under current law in the State.[6]

North Dakota Association of Realtors

Claus Lembke, executive vice president of the North Dakota Association of Realtors, explained that the organization is a trade association with approximately 1,100 active licensees out of a roster of 1,500.[7] The Association of Realtors promotes equal opportunity in housing through its code of ethics, which states that a Realtor can have nothing to do with any plan or agreement to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or natural origin with respect to any real estate transaction.[8] Other initiatives include the Voluntary Affirmative Marketing Agreement (VAMA) affirming fairness, and Realtors are encouraged to display the VAMA at every opportunity. The association also works to have a disclaimer published in newspapers that states the newspaper will not knowingly print a discriminatory advertisement.

Associated General Contractors of North Dakota

Curt Peterson, executive vice president, Associated General Contractors (AGC) of North Dakota, explained that the association is a trade organization representing the general contracting industry in the State.[9] The organization strongly supports civil rights guaranteed by Federal and State laws, which entitles all Americans to an equal opportunity to succeed without regard to race, color, gender, religion, ethnic origin, age, or any disability. AGC has recently sponsored various seminars, workshops, and programs geared at attracting minorities and women into the industry, and has had some success from time to time.[10] While the Associated General Contractors would agree that Federal and State agencies must be diligent, it does not perceive a large or growing problem. In recent years, AGC’s members have received few, if any, complaints of employment discrimination.[11] He said AGC does, however, question many of the regulations implemented in the name of affirmative action. These regulations, he said, are excessively complex and burdensome, and in addition, they are far more focused on statistical results than on the basic fairness to which the Nation aspires.

Mr. Peterson said, “Our members have felt regulatory and other pressures” which are often hidden from public view; and they feel that the government takes whatever steps necessary, “up to and including preferential treatment, to reach the raw results that the government likes to tout.”[12] He said, “Government programs for minority and women business enterprises are equally, if not more troublesome. These programs do not only distort their ultimate objective, but also neglect the immediate need to increase the stability, financial strength, and competitiveness of these firms.”[13] Every time an employment decision is made, AGC members must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Family Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Immigration Reform, National Labor Relations Act, and a host of others.


[1] Dale Anderson, transcript of factfinding meeting conducted by the North Dakota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Bismarck, ND, May 16, 1996, p. 197 (hereafter cited as Transcript 2).

[2] Ibid., p. 198.

[3] Ibid., pp. 198–200.

[4] Ibid., p. 200.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., pp. 200–01.

[7] Claus Lembke, Transcript 2, p. 234. Individuals join the association on a volunteer basis.

[8] Ibid., p. 235. Cited from the North Dakota Association of Realtors code of ethics, which originally was established in 1913.

[9] Curt Peterson, Transcript 2, p. 202. The AGC includes heavy-type contracting firms that build highways and commercial buildings. Ibid., p. 202.

[10] Ibid., p. 205.

[11] Ibid., p. 203.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid., p. 204.