(The Hill) – The New York City Council on Thursday approved a bill to ban height- and weight-based discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in the state.
The proposal, which the council passed by a 44-5 vote on Thursday, amends the city’s administrative code to add a mention of both height and weight — both perceived and actual — among a list of protected categories.
“It’s official! The New York City Council has voted to ban weight and height discrimination in NYC!” announced the nonprofit National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.
The bill also has an exemption for “employers needing to consider height or weight in employment decisions” in some cases, where permitted by law or where the physical factors are key to “performing essential requirements of a job and no alternative is available” or where the criteria are “reasonably necessary for the normal operation of the business.”
“People with different body types are not only denied jobs and promotions that they deserve,” said Councilmember Shaun Abreu, the bill’s sponsor. “Their whole existence has also been denied by a society that has offered no legal remedy for this prejudice. Until today.”
Abreu said during the vote that two million New Yorkers are impacted by “size discrimination” each year. He cited examples of people who reported facing the issue in their workplace, including a luxury brand specialist who was told “baby weight” didn’t “fit with the company image” and a student who “was made to feel like she didn’t belong” when she requested an accessible desk at school.
“With today’s vote New York City will become the largest municipality in the country and the world with these protections,” Abreu said. “With this bill passing today, we are going a long way towards changing the culture around weight.”
Only Michigan has a state-level law declaring weight a protected category and weight-based discrimination is banned in just a small handful of other cities, such as San Francisco and Madison, Wisc.