4 minute read | September.19.2023
Colorado’s POWR Act went into effect on August 7, 2023, significantly increasing employer obligations to prevent and address harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Companies with Colorado-based employees should act now to ensure compliance.
Here are some key points and action items:
The law also changes the definition of “harassment,” replacing the previous requirement that conduct be “severe and pervasive” with the requirement that it be “subjectively offensive” to complainant, and “objectively offensive to a reasonable individual who is a member of the same protected class.” While lowering the threshold for conduct to constitute harassment, the law also limits actionable claims to conduct that either:
The law also modifies the framework for disability discrimination and accommodation, adding the requirement that the disability have a significant impact on the job to justify an adverse action on the basis of a disability. The law further adds marital status as a protected category, which along with the changes described above, should be reflected in a company’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies applicable to Colorado-based employees.
Failure to comply with these requirements will not only void the noncompliant provision but can also result in a penalty of $5,000 per violation, in addition to actual damages, reasonable costs, and attorney fees. Under the Act, employers can be liable for simply presenting an employee with a noncompliant agreement. Since the requirements apply to provisions that limit the ability to disclose or discuss any alleged discriminatory or unfair employment practices, employers can include a savings clause to exclude these restrictions from the agreement.