NYC Enacts Landmark Weight and Height Discrimination Law

NYC Makes History with Groundbreaking Weight and Height Discrimination Law

/ 10:35 PM May 30, 2023

In a huge leap towards inclusivity, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has signed a law to fight discrimination caused by an individual’s weight or height in public accommodations, housing, and employment.

The New York City Council passed (Intro. 209-A) this month, rectifying Section 8-101 of NYC’s Human Rights Law, adding weight and height to the list of protected entities.

With the addition of these new categories, the NYC weight and height discrimination law’s goal is to provide equality for all New Yorkers, regardless of stature and size.

Mayor Adams, the leading supporter of this cause, said, “It shouldn’t matter how tall you are or how much you weigh when you’re looking for a job, are out on the town, or trying to rent an apartment. This law will help level the playing field for all New Yorkers. It will create more inclusive workplaces and living environments and protect against discrimination.”

The Law’s Exemptions

Even if the law is extensive in its goals, it acknowledges some exemptions. Notably, the law allows employers to apply height and weight considerations, as deemed by the Commission on Human Rights, to fill specific job requirements.

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In addition, some exceptions also apply to providers and operators of public accommodations. However, the law states that specific considerations in this sector must be for public service or “reasonably necessary for the normal operation of the business.”

True Stories Behind the Law

Beneath the NYC weight and height discrimination law are the personal stories of those who have experienced discrimination due to physical appearances. These experiences strengthen the need for such a law.

Michelle Kraus works for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest under the Disability Justice Program. She emphasized the daily discrimination that people face due to their short height.

She shared, “I have experienced discrimination based on unalterable physical characteristics. People have immediately judged my abilities, competence, and intelligence based on my appearance.”

In a similar thread, a fat liberation supporter, Substantia Jones, emphasized the “many indignities and biases” that most individuals face. She stated NYC’s CitiBike as an example.

The bike project requires a limit of 260 lbs on their bike. Jones said, “There are people who exceed that weight limit utilizing CitiBikes. Many of whom don’t know this weight limit negates their insurance protections.”

NYC’s Pioneering Steps Toward Equality

President of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, Stuart Appelbaum, shared his optimism on the legislation’s impact. He said it would “change workers’ lives for the better.”

New York City Council member Shaun Abreu, who supported the legislation, noted that “size discrimination is a social justice issue and a public health threat.” He also praised NYC’s leadership in this national action.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights is responsible for enforcing Human Rights Laws and educating the community. This is just the beginning of eliminating weight and height discrimination. Everyone should participate by promoting and upholding these inclusivities.

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TAGS: discrimination, New York City, Trending
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