- On Thursday, the New York City Council approved a bill making it illegal to discriminate against weight and height in employment, housing, and public accommodations.1
- The bill adds weight and height to the list of characteristics protected from discrimination under New York's human rights law, including race, gender, age, religion, and sexual orientation.2
- The exceptions include jobs where weight and height considerations are essential to the role being performed or where there is a public health and safety concern.3
- The bill is expected to be signed into law by New York Mayor Eric Adams, who in April said weight shouldn't be a basis for treating people differently, later this month.4
- Some studies show the impact of weight stigma could go far beyond self-esteem, especially for women who, according to estimates published in the National Library of Medicine, experience a 2% drop in hourly pay for every 6 pounds increase in their weight.5
- While lawmakers in New Jersey and Massachusetts are considering introducing a similar law, Michigan and Washington State already prohibit weight-based discrimination in the workplace.6
- Left narrative, as provided by New York Times. This bill sends a message that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect and that there's a legal remedy for size prejudice. Weight discrimination is not a health issue; it's a civil rights issue, which is why the bill comes as a breather for more than 40% of American adults who are openly ridiculed, denied jobs and promotions they deserve, and experience stigma, uncertainty, and distress for being short and obese.
- Right narrative, as provided by Washington Examiner. While nobody should be persecuted for their size, anti-discrimination law is intended to protect those with immutable characteristics, not to trump at-will employment. Weight discrimination is hard to prove, and so, if enacted, the measure would empower anyone to take legal action, even if they're not victims. As its enforcement would ultimately be left to the courts, the bill places an unwanted burden on employers, regulators, and the judicial system.