Federal law has protected workers from discrimination on the basis of sex for more than 50 years. The apprenticeship Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations also prohibit sponsors from discriminating on the basis of sex (including pregnancy or gender identity) and require sponsors to take proactive steps to ensure equal employment opportunity. Despite the law and regulation, traditional views about the role of women have served as a significant barrier to women’s entry and advancement in apprenticeship. Apprenticeship programs have an obligation to provide workplace environments where both women and men can thrive.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sex discrimination involves treating an applicant or apprentice unfavorably because of that individual’s sex. Everyone is protected from sex discrimination – both men and women.
Sex discrimination is prohibited in every aspect of employment and apprenticeship programs – 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 or apprenticeship.
Apprentices also have the right to be free from intimidation and retaliation for opposing sex discrimination, or for participating in inquiries into such discrimination in their workplaces.
Harassment on the basis of sex is a form of sex discrimination under Federal law and the apprenticeship EEO regulations. Workplace harassment based on sex is unlawful when it is unwelcome, and: (1) complying with or tolerating it is made a condition of employment, or (2) it creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment that interferes with the individual’s work performance. Harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. The harasser and the target of harassment can be either women or men, and they may both be of the same sex.
Harassment, including sexual harassment, is often linked to other undesirable and potentially liable behavior in the workplace. Those who feel free to engage in language and behavior that demeans women or threatens their physical well-being may also be engaging in behavior that drives other groups out of apprenticeship as well – such as bullying, hazing, or hostile work environments. They may even be setting up pranks that threaten the safety of everyone on the job site. Effective anti-harassment training can help build a productive and professional environment that drives retention for both male and female apprentices, saving time and money in the long run.
For affirmative action purposes, apprenticeship sponsors must maintain certain demographic information about applicants and apprentices, including sex, so they can analyze and monitor the composition of their apprenticeship workforces. One way to obtain this information while also guarding against discriminatory employment actions is to use a separate form to gather it from applicants, and to keep the information about an applicant’s sex separate from the information that will be the basis for hiring and other employment decisions. In addition, sponsors may obtain information about each apprentice’s sex from the Program Registration and Apprenticeship Agreement form (OMB #1205-0223, ETA Form 671), Apprentice Registration – Section II, which each apprentice must complete upon entering the program and which sponsors must report to the Office of Apprenticeship.
Inquiries about marital status, pregnancy, future child-bearing plans, number and/or ages of children, provisions for child care, and related questions are generally not job-related and should be avoided.
Expanding Participation in Apprenticeship
For information on expanding women’s opportunities in apprenticeship programs, visit: