A final rule issued by the Obama Administration’s Labor Department (DOL) that went into effect on January 18, 2017 — two days before the Trump Administration assumed office — overhauls the equal employment opportunity and affirmative action regulations applicable to all apprenticeship program sponsors currently registered with the Department of Labor or a recognized State Apprenticeship Agency (SAA).  The changes are largely designed to modernize the affirmative action requirements for apprenticeship programs that have been in effect in some form since 1963, and which were last revised in 1978.

Similar to the proposed rule published by the Office of Apprenticeship (OA) within DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) on November 6, 2015, the final rule borrows much of its substance from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regulations implementing Executive Order (E.O.) 11246 and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, albeit with some notable differences.

For example, the rule will require program sponsors to calculate numerical utilization goals for females and individual race/ethnicity subgroups, but the utilization analysis will need to be performed only during a compliance review, and even then only with the assistance of the agency auditing the program.  The rule also extends nondiscrimination protections to cover sexual orientation, age, genetic information, and disability status, and program sponsors will be required to adopt a fixed 7 percent disability utilization goal, extend invitations to self-identify disability status, and develop new recordkeeping procedures.

The text of the rule is available here.  ETA also posted a number of compliance resources explaining the rule, which are available here.

Members of the Equal Employment Advisory Council (EEAC) can read more here.