Oregon Enacts Protections for Registered Apprentices and On-The-Job Training Program Participants

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek recently signed into law a bill that will extend civil rights, discrimination, and harassment workplace protections to participants in registered apprenticeship programs and certain private-sector on-the-job training programs.1 The law takes effect January 1, 2024.

As set forth in ORS Chapter 659A, Oregon law already provides civil rights, discrimination, and harassment workplace protections to employees and interns. Federal law prohibits discrimination based on certain protected classes in registered apprenticeships, but Oregon had no clear parallel state protection.2

The new law will apply to participants in registered apprenticeship programs or private-sector on-the-job training programs that provide job-specific skills training necessary for obtaining employment in a skilled trade. The protections will apply where the “employer” employs the services of an apprentice or “reserves the right to control” the “means by which the services are or will be performed” and sponsors or agrees to provide training under an on-the-job training program. With respect to on-the-job training programs, the protections will apply if the program: 1) is for a limited duration of time as agreed upon by the participant and the employer; 2) the employer provides paid work experience to the participant at an agreed-upon rate; 3) the program does not require the employer to commit to hiring the participant; and 4) the program does not require or permit the parties to enter into a contract for employment as a term or condition of the program.

On-the-job-training programs administered or operated by the Department of Correction or Oregon Correction Enterprises are exempt from the law. The law does not provide rights under the Oregon Family Leave Act, Paid Leave Oregon, or any other leave laws. The law also does not create an employment relationship for purposes of wage and hour laws, occupational safety and health laws, workers’ compensation, or unemployment compensation.

The law does not address whether covered registered apprentices and on-the-job trainees will be included in an employer’s headcount for purposes of determining applicability of Oregon’s disability and pregnancy accommodation laws that otherwise apply only to employers of six or more persons.3

Given the January 1, 2024 effective date, sponsors of registered apprentice programs and businesses that sponsor on-the-job training programs covered by the law may want to develop civil rights, discrimination, and harassment policies for these individuals and train supervisors, managers, and job trainers who interact with these individuals to avoid violations of the law. 

See Footnotes

1 OR HB 3307.

2 29 C.F.R. Part 30; see also OAR 839-011-0200 requiring certain sponsors to adopt the Oregon Plan Equal Employment Opportunity in Registered Apprenticeship Programs; ORS 659A.001 (with limited definitions for employer and employee).

3 ORS 659A.106; ORS 659A.148.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.