WASHINGTON – To ensure that the U.S. workforce development system serves all people equally, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Civil Rights Center issued a final rule today updating the existing nondiscrimination and equal opportunity regulations of the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
“America works best when we field a full team and our nation’s workforce system should reflect our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “This new rule provides the entire workforce system with important clarity on how to protect workers from discrimination based on disability, pregnancy, national origin and limited English proficiency, gender identity and other factors.”
WIOA mandates the department to issue regulations to implement Section 188 of the law, the provisions that require equal opportunity and nondiscrimination in the workforce development system. The section prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or political affiliation or belief. For beneficiaries, applicants and participants only, the act also prohibits discrimination related to citizenship status or because an individual participates in a program or activity receiving financial assistance under Title I of WIOA.
This final rule contains changes necessary to address developments in equal opportunity and nondiscrimination law since the substantive provisions of the rule were last updated in 1999. The rule also revises procedures and processes for enforcement of the nondiscrimination and equal opportunity provisions to reflect changes in the practices of recipients, including the use of computer-based and Internet-based systems to provide aid, benefits, services and training through WIOA Title I-financially assisted programs and activities.
Significant changes include:
- Expanding the explanation of the obligations to prevent discrimination based on national origin and provide services to individuals with limited English proficiency.
- Making changes to reflect the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.
- Clarifying that sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions, transgender status, gender identity and sex-based stereotyping.
The changes make the rule easier to understand and follow, ultimately improving integration and inclusion of every community into the workforce development system. The rule will protect access to the system in particular for people with disabilities; people with limited English proficiency; transgender individuals; and individuals who are pregnant, have had a child, or have related medical conditions.
The rule goes into effect on Jan. 3, 2017, 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. More information can be found on the Civil Rights Center’s website at www.dol.gov/crc/188rule.