Complaint Information

  1. What can an apprentice do if he or she believes that he or she is being discriminated or retaliated against, or if his or her program is failing to follow the equal opportunity standards?

    If an apprentice believes that he or she is being discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, age (40 or older), genetic information, or disability, or that his or her program is not following the equal opportunity standards, the apprentice can file a written complaint with the Registration Agency under which the apprenticeship is registered. This complaint must be filed within 300 days of the alleged discrimination or the alleged failure to follow the equal opportunity standards (§30.14). The apprentice may also be able to file a complaint directly with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or the State fair employment practices agency in which the apprenticeship program is located. The contact information for those agencies must be included on the EEO notice that must be provided in the application for apprenticeship and must also be displayed in a prominent, publicly available location where all apprentices will see the notice. The EEO notice language and a poster that sponsors can customize are available on the apprenticeship EEO website.

  2. Can others besides apprentices file a complaint?

    Yes, an authorized representative may file a complaint on behalf of an apprentice (§30.14). This could allow a friend, family member, advocate, or lawyer to file such a complaint. It could also allow a journeyworker or a higher-status worker to file a complaint on behalf of the apprentice, if an apprentice feared risking his or her job or personal safety. The only requirement is that any such representative be authorized by the apprentice.

  3. What information must the complaint to a Registration Agency contain?

    Each complaint must be in writing and contain: (1) the apprentice’s name, address and telephone number, or other means of contacting the apprentice; (2) the identity of the individual or entity that the apprentice alleges is responsible for the discrimination or failure to follow the equal opportunity standards; (3) a short description of the actions that the apprentice believes were discriminatory or a failure to follow the equal opportunity standards and why the apprentice believes these actions were discriminatory; and (4) the signature of the apprentice or the apprentice's authorized representative.

  4. Can program sponsors include a background check in their basic qualifications?

    Yes, background checks are allowed, with a few caveats. First, sponsors should indicate what type of background check they mean (e.g. criminal, credit, etc.) and what they mean by "passing it." For example, descriptions might include "no felony conviction within the last seven years;" "no drug convictions;" or "no conviction of any kind within the last five years."

    Sponsors should take special care when basing employment decisions on background problems that may be more common among people of a certain protected category. For example, sponsors should not use a policy or practice that excludes people with certain criminal records if the policy or practice significantly disadvantages individuals of a particular race, national origin, or another protected characteristic, and does not accurately predict who will be a responsible, reliable, or safe employee. In legal terms, such a background check has a "disparate impact" and is not "job related and consistent with business necessity." Further, it is illegal to subject only people belonging to a certain protected class to background checks. Finally, except in rare circumstances, background checks seeking medical or genetic information violate various laws and should be avoided.

    Sponsors should also consult information from the EEOC and other Federal agencies about non-discriminatory uses of background checks: and