The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE              CONTACT:   Claire Gonzales
April 2, 1996                                 Reginald Welch
                                              (202) 663-4900
                                              TDD:   (202) 663-4494



WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the adoption of a new rule ending the longstanding policy exempting apprenticeship programs from coverage under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The Commission took this action following a rulemaking process that solicited the input of federal agencies, business and labor groups, and other interested individuals. Under the new rule, employers, unions, and joint labor-management organizations covered by the ADEA can no longer deny individuals entry into apprenticeship programs solely because of age. The new policy will go into effect 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register, which is expected in the next several days.

EEOC Chairman Gilbert F. Casellas said, "This new policy is the logical outcome of a careful assessment of today's more mobile workforce and the changing workplace environment. The Commission agrees with the many interested observers who concluded that the old rule, which limited opportunities for apprenticeship training to younger individuals, was outdated. While benefitting older workers generally, the new rule provides important opportunities to older women and minorities."

"At a time when all demographic data indicate a future shortage of trainable younger workers," the Chairman noted further, "the nation's employers also stand to benefit from the expanded pool of skilled labor generated by less restrictive apprenticeship programs."

The Commission's action brings to a close a protracted debate over whether or not the ADEA should exempt apprenticeship programs. The previous interpretation of the ADEA -- that apprenticeship programs could bar older persons from their ranks -- had been in effect since 1969, when the U.S. Department of Labor had jurisdiction over the Act. EEOC inherited the interpretation when enforcement of the age statute was transferred to the Commission under the President's Reorganization Plan No. 1 in 1978. Previous attempts by the Commission to re-examine the interpretation did not result in reversal of the regulation.

The majority of opinions received during a 60-day comment period from employers, labor unions, and representatives of other interested parties favored rescission of the old rule. Their views support the Commission's finding that providing persons 40 and older the opportunity to enter apprenticeship programs is consistent with the purposes of the ADEA.

The Commission's action removes Section 1625.13 from its Interpretive Regulations (29 C.F.R. Part 1625) and replaces it with a new Section 1625.21 under Subpart B - Substantive Regulations. Age limitations will continue for apprenticeship programs meeting the requirements under Section 4(f)1 of the ADEA [29 U.S.C. §623(f)(1)], where age is determined to be a bona fide occupational qualification. Apprenticeship programs may also be exempted from the new rule by the Commission under Section 9 of the Act (29 U.S.C. §628, in accordance with procedures set forth in 29 C.F.R. § 1627.15).

In addition to enforcing the ADEA, EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Equal Pay Act; sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; and prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government.

This page was last modified on January 15, 1997.

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