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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.
2021 Regular Session
Labor & Employment
Bill Summary

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

  • Continues the Colorado civil rights division (division) and the Colorado civil rights commission (commission) indefinitely;
  • Directs the division to include "harassment" as a basis or description of discrimination on any charge form or charge intake mechanism;
  • Allows an employment discrimination claim to be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction in the county or district where the alleged discriminatory or unfair employment practice occurred; and allows an individual to file a civil action, without otherwise exhausting administrative proceedings and remedies, as long as the individual either files a charge with the Colorado civil rights commission (commission) or serves a written demand for the relief on the individual's employer and allows the employer 14 days to respond;
  • Directs the division to develop and provide to employers, free of charge, training and education programs regarding the prevention of harassment and discrimination in the workplace, bystander intervention, and workplace civility;
  • Expands the definition of "employee" to include individuals in domestic service individuals who perform a service for a price, including independent contractors, subcontractors, and their employees; and individuals who offer services or labor without pay and specifies that an individual performing services for pay for another is deemed an employee unless, by a preponderance of the evidence, it is proven that the individual satisfies the conditions under the state wage law for a determination that the individual is not an employee;
  • Adds a requirement that a written, electronic, or oral agreement or contract under which a person performs services for another must require that the person for whom the services are performed shall not engage in any discriminatory or unfair employment practice with respect to the individual performing the services ;
  • Adds new definitions of "caregiver", "care recipient", "child", "minor child", and "harass" or "harassment" "hostile work environment", and "independent contractor" and repeals the current definition of "harass" that requires creation of a hostile work environment;
  • Adds protections from discriminatory or unfair employment practices for individuals based on their "marital status" or "caregiver status";
  • Specifies that in harassment claims, the alleged conduct need not be severe or pervasive to constitute a discriminatory or unfair employment practice, and an employer has an affirmative defense to the claim if the employer demonstrates that, when the employer knew or should have known of the harassment, the employer took prompt, reasonable, and, if warranted, remedial action to end the harassment, deter future harassers, and protect employees;
  • Specifies that it is a discriminatory or unfair employment practice for an employer to fail to initiate an investigation of a complaint or fail to take prompt , reasonable, and, if warranted, remedial action; if appropriate;
  • Specifies the requirements for an employer to avoid liability when an employee proves that a supervisor unlawfully harassed that employee;
  • Prohibits certain preemployment medical examinations, imposes limitations on inquiries and examinations about an employee's disability during employment, and specifies that violations of these prohibitions and limitations constitute discriminatory or unfair employment practices;
  • Expands the time limit to file a charge with the commission from 6 months to 300 days after the alleged discriminatory or unfair employment practice occurred;
  • Repeals the limits on remedies in cases involving age discrimination;
  • Limits the ability of an employer to require confidentiality of claims once a charge is filed with the commission Specifies requirements that must be satisfied for a nondisclosure provision in an agreement between an employer and employee to be enforceable; voids a nondisclosure provision if a party makes a material misrepresentation; and requires the division to provide to a charging party other charges filed with the division against the same respondent; and
  • Requires employers with 20 or more employees to provide and maintain records of training and education to all employees regarding harassment and discrimination prevention, bystander intervention, and workplace civility, encourages other employers to provide the training and education, and authorizes the division director to impose penalties on employers that fail to comply with the training and recordkeeping requirements.

The bill appropriates the following amounts to the following departments to implement the bill:

  • $539,292 and 6.0 FTE to the department of corrections;
  • $71,905 and 0.8 FTE to the department of education;
  • $134,823 and 1.5 FTE to the office of the governor;
  • $22,471 and 0.5 FTE to the department of health care policy and financing;
  • $449,410 and 5.0 FTE to the department of human services;
  • $449,410 and 5.0 FTE to the judicial department;
  • $107,858 and 1.2 FTE to the department of labor and employment;
  • $401,180 and 2.5 FTE to the department of law;
  • $134,823 and 1.5 FTE to the department of natural resources;
  • $630,465 and 1.5 FTE to the department of personnel;
  • $125,835 and 1.4 FTE to the department of public health and environment;
  • $161,788 and 1.8 FTE to the department of public safety;
  • $652,879 and 9.7 FTE to the department of regulatory agencies;
  • $134,823 and 1.5 FTE to the department of revenue; and
  • $269,646 and 3.0 FTE to the department of transportation.

(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)

(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)




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