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How Colorado’s PWER Act expands harassment protections

On Behalf of | May 29, 2024 | Employment Law

The Protecting Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation Act marks a significant step in ensuring safer and more respectful workplaces in Colorado. With its focus on expanding harassment protections, the PWER Act aims to create a work environment where employees feel secure and valued.

The changes introduced by the Act reflect a commitment to addressing and reducing workplace harassment.

Expanded definitions of harassment

The PWER Act broadens the definitions of what constitutes workplace harassment. Previously, many forms of subtle harassment went unnoticed or unreported. Under the new law, any unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information can qualify as harassment if it creates a hostile work environment. This means even less obvious forms of harassment now receive recognition and action.

Lower threshold for action

An impactful change in the PWER Act is the lowering of the threshold for what constitutes actionable harassment. Before, employees often had to endure repeated incidents before taking action. Now, even a single incident of severe harassment can lead to a valid claim. This change empowers employees to report issues promptly, fostering a safer workplace.

Protection from retaliation

The PWER Act also enhances protections against retaliation. Workers often fear reporting harassment because they worry about losing their jobs or facing other negative consequences. The Act ensures stricter penalties for employers who retaliate against employees for reporting harassment. This encourages more employees to come forward without fear of retribution. In doing so, it promotes transparency and accountability.

Employer responsibilities

Employers must now adhere to more stringent guidelines to prevent harassment. The PWER Act requires regular training sessions for employees and managers on recognizing and addressing harassment. Employers must also implement clear procedures for reporting and handling complaints.

By setting higher standards for workplace conduct and empowering employees to take action against harassment, the PWER Act helps build a culture of respect and safety.