2J Religion and National Origin Requirements

COs must include assessment of the contractor’s compliance with the Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Religion or National Origin as a part of the on-site review.130 Although the Executive Order AAP does not require that the contractor include a reference to these guidelines, the contractor must still comply with them. COs must examine the contractor’s policy statement to ensure that it references the contractor’s obligation to provide EEO without regard to religion and national origin. COs must also interview contractor officials and employees regarding implementation of the policy, including the provision of accommodation for religious observances and practices. COs include this information obtained during the on-site review in the SCER in Part C.

130. 41 CFR Part 60-50.

2J00 Contractor Policy and Implementation

A contractor must review its employment practices to determine whether individuals receive fair consideration for job opportunities without regard to religion or national origin. COs must ask the contractor whether it conducted a review of its employment practices for this purpose and, if so, when, how and whether it documented the review. If the contractor undertook a review, the CO must verify the results and the sufficiency of any corrective actions that the contractor implemented. In making this assessment, the CO will keep in mind that the scope of the contractor’s efforts depends on a review of all circumstances, including the nature and extent of any problem areas, as well as the size and resources of the contractor. COs must take into consideration that contractors are not required to collect data on applicants’ and employees’ religious affiliation or national origin. Therefore, a contractor’s self-analysis will not use employment records to identify employees’ religious affiliations or national origins. If the contractor did not conduct a review, the contractor must take corrective action.

COs must verify that the contractor communicated the nondiscrimination policy to contractor officials, human resources personnel, employees and applicants, and that procedures implementing the policy are in place. A CO will also verify that the contractor has participated in recruitment and outreach efforts. A CO will review employment policies regarding nondiscrimination based on religion and national origin, and the provision of religious accommodations. During interviews with contractor officials, employees and applicants, a CO will ask about requests for religious accommodations and how the contractor responded to these requests. COs must obtain documentation regarding recruitment and outreach, and other affirmative action efforts.

2J01 Religious Accommodation

The contractor must accommodate the religious observances and practices of its employees and prospective employees unless it can demonstrate that it cannot reasonably accommodate a religious observance or practice without undue hardship on its business.131 In determining the extent of the contractor’s obligation to provide reasonable accommodations on religious grounds, COs must consider:

  • Business necessity;
  • Financial costs and expenses; and
  • Resulting personnel problems.

The agency follows Title VII legal principles on religious accommodations.132 COs should note that Title VII standards for religious accommodation are not the same as Section 503 standards for reasonable accommodation. COs must ask the contractor whether and how it has made accommodation to the religious observances and practices of its employees and prospective employees.133 COs must also ask whether the contractor denied any religious accommodation requests. If so, the CO will seek documentation and verification of the reasons for denial and ensure that they were proper. In reviewing employee files, COs must be alert for any pattern of discipline or terminations based on refusal to work on certain days based on religious observances. If the contractor reports that no requests were made, COs must review procedures available for evaluating such requests.

131. See 41 CFR 60-50.3.

132. See Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e(j).

133. See 41 CFR 60-50.3 and http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/religion.cfm (last accessed September 2019).

2J02 Potential Harassment and Discrimination

While conducting interviews and review of records, COs may obtain information regarding potential harassment or discrimination based on religion or national origin, or both. Like harassment based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or veteran status, harassment based on religion or national origin may take a number of forms. Examples include name calling, negative treatment, or derogatory speech directed at individuals of a specific religion or national origin. If a CO obtains information about potential harassment or discrimination, the CO must investigate further to determine whether the:

  • Discrimination occurred in the past or is ongoing;
  • Contractor knew or should have known of the discrimination;
  • Contractor has internal discrimination and harassment complaint procedures in place;
  • Contractor’s internal discrimination and harassment complaint procedures are known to the employees; and
  • Contractor has done anything to address the problem.

Additional information regarding harassment and hostile environment on the bases of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or veteran status is discussed in Chapter 6, Complaint Investigation.

Additionally, if the CO finds indicators of disparate treatment or disparate impact,134 or both, the CO must fully investigate the issue. The CO must obtain copies of any documents reflecting these concerns or indicating how the contractor dealt with the concern. The CO must also interview people knowledgeable about the matter. If the investigation identifies issues specific to religious or national origin discrimination that the Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Religion or National Origin do not address, the CO must follow Title VII principles in determining whether a violation may have occurred.

134. Definitions for these terms are included in the Key Words and Phrases section of the Manual.

2J03 Community Contacts

As part of the on-site review, COs may identify organizations representing the interests of various nationalities and religious groups located in the labor area serving the contractor’s facility. COs may find it useful to contact such groups for information about possible employment problems experienced by their members who have applied for employment with the contractor.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: December 23, 2019