In the News

DBJ: Critics say Colorado’s new workplace harassment law could backfire

Gov. Jared Polis earlier this week signed into law one of the more controversial bills of the 2023 Colorado legislative session. Known as the POWR (for Protecting Opportunities and Workers) Act, Senate Bill 23-172 updates the definition of harassment and specifies that harassment does not need to be “severe or pervasive” to constitute a discriminatory or unfair practice.

While business groups such as Colorado Chamber of Commerce, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Competitive Council were initially opposed to SB 23-172, they went neutral after lawmakers tweaked the bill.

Through a negotiating process, Colorado Chamber President and CEO Loren Furman said the opposing sides developed a definition of harassment that is based on cases that have already been litigated in court. Furman said that established a framework that those involved in negotiations could agree upon.

“We found a balance in the language that protects both employers and employees,” Furman said. “The original bill would have certainly increased the potential for liability and increased litigation costs for both parties, but we believe the way the bill passed minimizes that potential.”

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