SB 21-176 – Protecting Opportunities and Worker’s Rights (POWR) Act
Legislation has been introduced to amend the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act to expand employer liability while removing established remedies. The Chamber, along with NCLA, believes the proposed changes will adversely impact employer-employee relationships, create a more challenging work environment and raise the cost of doing business within the state.
Of greatest concern, HB 21-176 dictates the following:
- The definition of a “hostile work environment” would be expanded to include employer liability should an employee, contractor, subcontractor or intern perceives any conduct that “offends, humiliates, distresses, or intrudes upon the individual or otherwise interferes with and undermines the individual’s personal sense of well-being or safety”, or “affects the individual’s ability to perform the individual’s job”.
- The current legal standard of demonstrating “severe or pervasive” conditions will be repealed, as a single incident is sufficient to establish employer liability.
- The nature of the work environment will no longer be considered, meaning a construction site would be treated the same as a coffee shop.
- Employers could be held liable even when the employer or an individual’s supervisor is unaware of offensive behavior or remark made by another employee, contractor or customer.
- As defined by the aggrieved individual, an employer is held liable if it fails to conduct a reasonable investigation of any perceived violation.
- The Act would effectively eliminate the ability of the employer to enter into a binding confidentiality, non-disclosure or non-disparagement agreement with an aggrieved individual.
- A judge would no longer be permitted to dismiss a case believed to lack merit.
A full analysis of the POWR Act can be found here.
You are encouraged to contact your State Representative and Senator to voice your concerns with the POWR Act.