The Federal law ensuring that workplaces are free from discrimination on the basis of religion has been in place for more than 50 years. These protections cover all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer or sponsor demonstrates, with specificity, that he or she is unable to reasonably accommodate an apprentice’s or prospective apprentice’s religious observance or practice without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business. The apprenticeship Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations protect apprentices from discrimination on the basis of religion and help to ensure that workplaces are free from discrimination and promote equal employment opportunity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Religious discrimination involves treating an apprentice or applicant for apprenticeship unfavorably due to any aspect of the apprentice’s or applicant’s religious observance and practice, including religious belief. Religious discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to, or associates with, an individual of a particular religion. The law also prohibits workplace or job segregation based on religion (including religious garb and grooming practices), such as assigning an apprentice to a non-customer contact position because of actual or feared customer preference.
The apprenticeship EEO regulations, as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, forbid discrimination on the basis of religion in all aspects of employment – recruiting, hiring, and advancement; wages and benefits; work assignments; discipline, layoffs, and discharge; provision of related instruction; and any other term, condition, or privilege of employment.
Harassment on the basis of religion is also a form of discrimination. Unwelcome workplace harassment based on a protected characteristic, such as religion, is unlawful when complying with or tolerating it is made a condition of employment, or when it creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment that interferes with the individual’s work performance. Sponsors are responsible for taking certain steps to prevent and correct religious harassment by supervisors, journeyworkers, co-workers and/or other apprentices, or customers. More information on preventing harassment can be found on the Anti-Harassment Resources page.
Apprentices also have the right to be free from intimidation and retaliation for opposing religious discrimination or for participating in inquiries into such discrimination in their workplace.
Sponsors are required to reasonably accommodate an employee whose sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance conflicts with a work requirement, unless the sponsor can demonstrate that doing so would pose an undue hardship on the conduct of business. Some reasonable religious accommodations might include: granting leave for religious observances; providing a time and/or place to pray; allowing employees to swap shifts to accommodate religious observance; and permitting employees to wear religious garb, such as a head covering or scarf.
- Department of Justice Memo: Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty
- EEOC: Questions and Answers: Religious Discrimination in the Workplace
- Best Practices for Eradicating Religious Discrimination in the Workplace
- EEO Complaints Information for Apprentices
- EEO Pledge and Complaint Poster for Apprenticeship Sponsors
- Anti-Harassment Training Resources for Apprentices and Apprenticeship Sponsors