Gov. Doug Burgum today announced the appointment of Bismarck attorney Nathan Svihovec to lead the North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights, citing his extensive experience representing both public and private employers and employees at the state and federal levels. Svihovec will begin his new role as state labor commissioner on Thursday, Dec. 1.
Svihovec most recently served as an attorney with a Bismarck-based law firm, representing and advising employers and employees in various protected categories before the Department of Labor and Human Rights, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, federal and state courts, and state administrative agencies. He also has represented employees in tribal employment matters.
Svihovec previously served as an assistant attorney general for the North Dakota Office of Attorney General from 2017 to 2020, representing and advising state agencies – including the Department of Labor and Human Rights – in employment law matters. He also worked as a law clerk for state district court judges and in human resources for private sector companies.
“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. “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.”
A native of Watford City, Svihovec earned an associate’s degree from Bismarck State College, bachelor’s degrees in human resource management and business administration from Dickinson State University and his law degree at the University of North Dakota School of Law in Grand Forks. He served in the North Dakota National Guard from 2008 to 2016, achieving the rank of sergeant and being named North Dakota Soldier of the Year in 2009.
“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,” Svihovec said. “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.”
Burgum expressed his gratitude for Kathy Kulesa, who has served as interim state labor commissioner since Oct. 1 and will remain as human rights director for the department.
The Department of Labor and Human Rights is responsible for enforcing state labor and human rights laws and for educating the public about the laws. It also licenses employment agencies operating in the state and can verify the status of independent contractor relationships. The department is authorized for 13 team members and has a two-year budget of $2.9 million.