Colorado Legislature’s Changes to the Employment Landscape in 2023

Amanda Milgrom

Share Post:

2023 saw Colorado’s legislature pass a series of new employment laws that have continued to shore up employee-friendly laws across the state. These include changes to the Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (CEPEWA), the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplace Act (CHFWA), and the Colorado Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Act. As a result of these changes, Colorado employers should take a look at their employment policies, agreements, handbooks, and other employment-related documents to ensure compliance with new laws and regulations. While we will not cover all of the changes here, we will review a couple of key changes. For additional questions or guidance, please reach out to employment attorneys Amanda Milgrom and Jason Fisher at Milgrom & Daskam.

The POWR Act (Protecting Opportunities and Workers Rights Act) was signed into law on June 6, 2023, and goes into effect August 7, 2023. It imposes a broader definition of harassment to include any unwelcome physical or verbal conduct and replaces the previous requirement of demonstrating a hostile work environment. Critically, the POWR Act adds new limitations to nondisclosure agreements by amending the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. It voids any nondisclosure agreement that limits an employee’s ability to discuss or disclose alleged discriminatory or unfair employment practices unless a series of conditions are included, including that it must expressly state that the nondisparagement does not limit the employee from disclosing the underlying facts of the alleged discrimination or unfair employment practice, including in a settlement agreement, to certain individuals such as family members and attorneys, governing agencies, in response to a subpoena, or otherwise required by law. And the penalties for violating this section of the POWR Act are not light – if an employer violates the restrictions of a nondisclosure agreement, employees may sue and recover a penalty of $5,000 for each violation, in addition to actual damages, reasonable costs, and attorney’s fees.

CHFWA has been updated to include new qualifying reasons for employees to use sick leave, including grieving, attending a funeral/memorial service, or handling financial and/or legal matters arising from the death of a family member; when caring for a family member whose school or place of care is closed due to weather, loss of power, loss of heating, loss of water, or other unexpected events resulting in closure; and when an employee must evacuate their place of residence due to weather, loss of power, loss of heating, loss of water, or other unexpected events resulting in evacuation.

CEPEWA, signed into law on June 5, 2023, was amended by Senate Bill 23-105 (Ensure Equal Pay for Equal Work Act) and will take effect on January 1, 2024. It expands the investigatory powers of the Colorado Department of Labor. Individuals making sex-based discrimination wage claims can now seek back pay for up to 6 years, doubling the previous time limit. It also modifies job posting disclosure requirements for employers. Employers with no physical presence in Colorado and fewer than 15 remote employees in Colorado are exempt from the detailed salary and benefit disclosures until July 1, 2029. Finally, it adds new disclosure requirements for job opportunities, including the inclusion of the anticipated closing date of the application window.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

PARTNER

Amanda Milgrom represents individuals and businesses of all sizes in various litigation matters regarding employment, intellectual property, and business disputes. She practices employment law, representing employees in discrimination lawsuits and counseling employers on best practices, drafting employee handbooks, and putting together suites of employment contracts.

More Articles

Copyright Law

To Register or Not to Register: The Benefits and Limitations of a Trademark Registration

The moment you begin using your trademark in U.S. commerce (for example, with the sale or exchange of your goods and/or services), you establish what is called “common law” trademark protection. While you have certain rights in your trademark upon use, there are various limitations to common law rights and we almost always recommend seeking registration of your trademark. Trademark registration affords you with greater rights not available under common law, though there are certain limitations on those rights, as discussed below.

Read More »
Copyright Law

A Sriracha By Any Other Name…

Sriracha, a fiery red sauce that has captured the taste buds of spicy food enthusiasts around the world, offers not just a kick of heat but also a fascinating study in the realm of trademark and trade dress law. Originating from the coastal city of Si Racha, Thailand, this sauce has transcended its humble beginnings to become a global culinary phenomenon. However, its journey into kitchens and restaurants worldwide brings to light intriguing legal challenges, particularly regarding its trademark and trade dress.

Read More »
Real Estate Law

Mastering Commercial Lease Negotiation: A Tenant’s Guide to Success

Negotiating a commercial lease can be a daunting task for tenants, with significant implications for their business operations and bottom line. Whether securing office space, retail storefronts, or industrial facilities, tenants must navigate the complexities of lease agreements to maximize benefits and minimize risks. In this blog post, we offer invaluable tips and strategies to empower tenants in their commercial lease negotiations, ensuring favorable terms and enhanced peace of mind.

Read More »