Equal Employment Opportunity

woman in harthat

Apprenticeship is a powerful tool for growing the American economy and training its workforce. As the U.S. expands apprenticeship training nationally, a diverse workplace helps businesses access all our nation's talent. In 2016 the U.S. Department of Labor released updated equal employment opportunity (EEO) regulations for Registered Apprenticeship programs to help businesses reach a larger and more diverse pool of workers. When all workers, including women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities, have the opportunity to become apprentices, we tap into our nation's full potential and open new career pathways for American workers.

Know the Basics

The updated EEO regulations are designed to open more doors to apprenticeship for all workers, including women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities. They will help employers and other apprenticeship sponsors build the skilled and diverse workforce needed to compete in the global economy. Communities will benefit from this proven model to develop talent pipelines for high-growth industries. The updates also support strong partnerships among industry, labor, education, and workforce organizations to design apprenticeship programs that provide highly-skilled workers for businesses and new opportunities for workers in jobs that pay well and advance their careers.

The updates reflect the workplace of the 21st century, modern approaches for increasing diversity and protecting against discrimination, and the need for businesses to access all of the nation's talent in order to thrive. The EEO regulations for apprenticeship were last published in 1978. Since that time, many aspects of the workplace have changed dramatically.

The previous regulations prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. The updated rule adds protected bases: disability, age, sexual orientation, and genetic information. It provides a set of common-sense strategies for outreach and retention to help employers and other apprenticeship sponsors increase workplace diversity. The updated rule streamlines responsibilities and provides more flexibility for Registered Apprenticeship sponsors to comply with the rule. The regulation also updates the avenues by which apprentices can ensure their rights. Registered Apprenticeship sponsors and employers have long been responsible for maintaining a workplace free from discrimination and for taking affirmative steps to support diversity by reaching a broader pool of applicants. The updated rule was developed with significant input from apprenticeship sponsors, businesses, labor, community-based organizations, journey-workers, and apprentices.

The rule is effective 30 days after the date of publication, but allows for phased-in compliance beyond this period to provide a smooth and easy transition. For instance, sponsors will have 180 days after the publication of the rule 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). During this time, the Office of Apprenticeship will be available to provide technical assistance to sponsors with questions about the new rule. More detailed information about the compliance timeline is available here.


View the Full Apprenticeship EEO FAQs
View the Final Apprenticeship EEO Rule without preamble
View the Final Apprenticeship EEO Rule with preamble

Access Apprenticeship EEO Tools and Resources

Under the EEO regulations, apprenticeship sponsors must:

  • Refrain from discrimination, including new protected bases
  • Update, post, and disseminate the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) pledge
  • Post information about how to file complaints of discrimination with the appropriate apprenticeship registration agency
  • Begin universal outreach and recruitment efforts, including creating a list of organizations that can be sources of referrals of a diverse pool of apprenticeship applicants
  • Implement anti-harassment measures, including provide anti-harassment training
  • Use any selection procedures they choose, as long as those procedures are not unlawfully discriminatory

The Office of Apprenticeship has created a series of technical assistance and training resources specifically designed to help sponsors meet these requirements, while simultaneously expanding apprenticeship as an employment option for more Americans.

Anti-Harassment Resources

The anti-harassment training materials on this page include a video with built-in knowledge checks for online, self-directed training, a PowerPoint for a facilitator-led presentation, and additional supporting resources for sponsors to educate apprentices and other employees on preventing and addressing workplace harassment in apprenticeship programs.

Disability Self-Identification

This page provides details on the disability self-identification process and deadlines, along with resources on the topic. The Voluntary Disability Disclosure Form may also be accessed from this page.

EEO Pledge and Complaints Information Poster

This page contains a customizable poster that includes both the updated EEO pledge and the notice about filing EEO discrimination complaints.

Outreach & Recruitment Resources

This page provides details on conducting outreach and recruitment to attract diverse apprenticeship candidates. The page also includes the link to the Universal Outreach Tool.

Protected Characteristics

From this page, you may view detailed information on each of the characteristics protected under the apprenticeship EEO regulations: race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age (40 and older), sexual orientation, and genetic information.

Resources to Identify Non-Discriminatory Apprentice Selection Procedures

This page collects resources that contain information about selection procedures that sponsors may use, including applicable regulatory provisions, sample selection procedures language, and FAQs.

Tools and Resources to Come

Watch this space for additional tools and resources that OA plans to provide:

  • Tool for Analyzing Sponsors' Utilization of Underrepresented Groups

workers of various industries

EEO Complaint Procedures

Have you experienced discrimination that you believe was based on your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age (40 or older), genetic information, or disability? You have 300 days from the date of the alleged discrimination to file a complaint unless good cause is shown for an extension.


Explore Additional Resources

Questions? Email

Updated: May 04, 2020