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Protecting Opportunities And Workers' Rights Act

Concerning protections for Colorado workers against discriminatory employment practices, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.
2023 Regular Session
Civil Law
Labor & Employment
Bill Summary

For purposes of addressing discriminatory or unfair employment practices pursuant to Colorado's anti-discrimination laws, the act enacts the "Protecting Opportunities and Workers' Rights (POWR) Act", which:

  • Directs the Colorado civil rights division (division) to include "harassment" as a basis or description of discrimination on any charge form or charge intake mechanism;
  • Repeals the current definition of "harass" that requires creation of a hostile work environment and redefines "harass" or "harassment" as unwelcome conduct directed at an individual or group of individuals in, or perceived to be in, a protected class, which conduct is subjectively offensive to the individual alleging harassment and objectively offensive to members of the same protected class as the individual alleging harassment, and which conduct need not be severe or pervasive to constitute a discriminatory or an unfair employment practice;
  • Adds protections from discriminatory or unfair employment practices for individuals based on their marital status;
  • For purposes of the exception to otherwise discriminatory practices for an employer that is unable to accommodate an individual with a disability who is otherwise qualified for the job, eliminates the ability for the employer to assert that the individual's disability has a significant impact on the job as a rationale for the employment practice and specifies that the exception is limited to situations in which there is no reasonable accommodation that would allow the individual to satisfy the essential functions of the job;
  • Specifies the requirements for an employer to assert an affirmative defense to an employee's proven claim of unlawful harassment by a supervisor;
  • Specifies the requirements that must be satisfied for a nondisclosure provision in an agreement between an employer and an employee or a prospective employee to be enforceable; and
  • Requires an employer to maintain personnel and employment records for at least 5 years and, with regard to complaints of discriminatory or unfair employment practices, to maintain those records in a designated repository.

The act appropriates a total of $1,248,170 from the general fund for the 2023-24 state fiscal year, allocated as follows to the following state departments and offices, to implement the act:

  • $152,866 to the department of corrections;
  • $23,469 to the department of education;
  • $35,415 to the office of the governor;
  • $23,363 to the department of health care policy and financing;
  • $129,081 to the department of human services;
  • $146,894 to the judicial department;
  • $46,833 to the department of labor and employment;
  • $17,708 to the department of law;
  • $76,276 to the department of natural resources;
  • $89,090 to the department of personnel;
  • $52,912 to the department of public health and environment;
  • $52,912 to the department of public safety;
  • $266,298 to the department of regulatory agencies; and
  • $47,045 to the department of revenue.

Additionally, $88,008 is appropriated from the state highway fund to the department of transportation to implement the act.

APPROVED by Governor June 6, 2023

EFFECTIVE August 7, 2023

NOTE: This act was passed without a safety clause and takes effect 90 days after sine die.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)


Became Law


Bill Text

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details