New Colorado Laws 101: POWR Act – Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights

March 19, 2024

The Arvada Chamber has assembled explainer posts for five major Colorado laws that impact businesses in 2024. Read below for this legislation’s eligibility, key dates, and the requirements for businesses.


POWR Act – Protecting Opportunities and Workers’ Rights

The Protecting Opportunities and Workers’s Rights (POWR) Act went into effect in Colorado in August, 2023, after passing the Colorado General Assembly in the 2023 Regular Session. Among other things, the Act redefines the term “harassment” in Colorado workplaces to lower the burden of proof for workplace harassment claims. It also limits the use of nondisclosure agreements and imposes new record-keeping requirements for businesses in the state. 

New definition of harassment in the workplace

Under the POWR Act, workplace conduct no longer has to be “severe or pervasive” to constitute workplace harassment. This follows the lead of other states such as New York, which have also gotten rid of the “severe and pervasive” language from workplace harassment law. The burden of proof for harassment claims has now been lowered, defining 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.”

This language marks an expansion of the definition laid out previously, and it repeals the prior definition of “harass” which was defined as conduct that created a hostile work environment. 

Additionally, the POWR Act adds protections against discrimination and unfair employment practices for individuals based on marital status. 

The act also limits an employer’s ability to make an affirmative defense against harassment claims unless they have an established program in place that is designed to prevent harassment in the workplace and deter future harassment. 

Changes to Nondisclosure Agreements

The POWR Act aims to encourage discussion and reporting on discriminatory or unfair employment practices in order to best protect employees. In this spirit, the Act limits the use of nondisclosure agreements between employers and employees in many cases.

According to the language of the bill, nondisclosure provisions that limit the ability of an employee to discuss or disclose any alleged discrimination or unfair employment practices are void, barring a handful of exceptions. The bill is written to make nondisclosure agreements much more difficult for employers to use as tools to restrict conversation about cases of workplace harassment or unfair employment practices. 

New rules for record-keeping

The Act further requires employers to maintain personnel and employment records for at least 5 years. These include all records related to employment, hiring, promotion, termination, rates of pay, other terms of compensation and other records related to personnel and employment. 

It also requires records of discriminatory or unfair labor practices be kept in a designated location. The Act explains that these are not meant to be public records, but must be kept in a “designated repository.


Through the B.O.L.D. 2026 initiativeAdvocacy KAPS Council, the Jefferson County Business Lobby (JCBL), and consistent outreach to elected officials at all levels of government, the Arvada Chamber strives to stay informed on the latest policy developments while advocating for a strong local economy. Find resources and ways to engage at arvadachamber.org/advocacy.

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