DOL Releases Final EEO Apprenticeship Rule

On December 19, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its final rule to modernize the equal employment opportunity (EEO) regulations that implement the National Apprenticeship Act of 1937. The existing regulations prohibit discrimination in registered apprenticeship on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex, and requires sponsors of registered apprenticeship programs take affirmative action to provide equal opportunity in such programs. The final rule updates this section to include age (40 or older), genetic information, sexual orientation, and disability among the list of protected bases upon which a sponsor must not discriminate. It also further modifies the affirmative action provisions for sponsors by detailing the actions a sponsor must take to satisfy its affirmative action obligations, including those individuals with disabilities.

The final rule takes effect on Monday, January 18, 2017 (30 days after the date of publication). However, sponsors will have 180 days after the effective date to come into compliance with the new non-discrimination protections, and up to two years to come into compliance with obligations related to their Affirmative Action Programs (AAPs). The DOL has provided a FAQ page as well as an outline of the compliance timeline. The DOL will also provide additional guidance, tool kits and webinars, one of which was held January, 12, 2017, and can be accessed by clicking here. Late last year, IEC submitted comments expressing its concerns and suggested changes to the proposed rule as they apply to IEC’s apprenticeship program and is currently reviewing the final rule and will provide additional analysis.