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Tipsheet

NYC Bill Would Ban Discrimination Based on Weight

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

The New York City Council is considering a bill that would ban discrimination based on weight and height in the workplace, city housing and public accommodations. 

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The legislation would add “actual or perceived” height and weight as protected classes under New York City’s human rights law, which prohibits discrimination based on age, immigration and citizenship status, race, disability, gender, “gender identity,” sexual orientation, among other things. 

Currently, the bill has 33 co-sponsors on a council that requires 26 votes to pass, according to The Washington Post. Council Member Shaun Abreu (D), the bill’s sponsor, said that it was “long overdue as a civil rights issue.”

“It’s super important that we treat everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve. At the end of the day, this is about job security, this is about housing security. If someone looks a certain way, if someone is of a different body size or has higher weight, who cares?” he said. 

In a tweet, Abreu called is “appearance-based discrimination.”

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The legislation would include exceptions for employers who have to consider height and weight as a “bona fide occupational qualification” necessary to conduct business and for providers of public accommodations where height and weight are factors in public safety and health. Reportedly, Mayor Eric Adams (D) has signaled support for the bill.

“More than 40 percent of adults in the United States report experiencing weight stigma at some point in their lives, and studies show that its impacts could go far beyond self-esteem, like lower wages and fewer workplace opportunities,” The Post reported. “Women are particularly impacted, with some data stating that a woman’s hourly pay can drop by almost 2 percent for every one-unit increase in BMI.”

Michigan is the only state in the U.S. with a law on the books declaring weight a protected category from discrimination. Some cities, like San Francisco, have done the same, according to The Hill. State legislatures in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Jersey could soon unveil similar bills.

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