In an era of rising health care costs, you may be tempted to regulate employees’ off-duty behavior. For example, some employers in other states have tried to stop their employees from smoking even when they’re off the clock, while others are refusing to even hire smokers. Others are charging more for health insurance for overweight individuals.
But don’t even think about trying this in Colorado. The state has a Lifestyle Discrimination Law that protects employees who engage in legal activities, such as using tobacco or alcohol when not at work.
Unlike the lifestyle discrimination laws in other states, Colorado’s statute has an unusual twist: It specifically lists marriage and planning to marry as protected legal activities. That means if you refuse to hire an applicant or discipline a worker because of marital status or marriage plans, you will land in court.
So, when can you regulate off-duty behavior? Only if you can demonstrate the ban is related to a job requirement or is necessary to avoid a real or perceived conflict of interest.
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