On May 26th, 2023, New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed Intro-209-A, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s height or weight in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
This new law will add weight and height to the list of characteristics that are protected from discrimination, along with race, gender, age, religion, pregnancy, and sexual orientation.
At long last, victims of this much overlooked genre of discrimination will have protection under the law. This marks a crucial step toward leveling the playing field for all New Yorkers, creating a more inclusive job market free of discrimination.
The reality of body discrimination
More than 40 percent of adults in the United States report experiencing weight stigma at some point in their lives. Studies show that the impact of weight discrimination may reach far beyond self-esteem, with consequences such as lower wages and fewer job opportunities.
Women are particularly affected, some data indicating that a woman’s hourly pay can drop by almost 2 percent for every one-unit increase in BMI.
Is weight discrimination illegal?
Unfortunately, the issue of body discrimination in employment has been grossly neglected nationwide, practically nonexistent in mainstream discourse. Lack of representation may have left you wondering: is weight discrimination illegal? Is height discrimination illegal?
Although it is clearly immoral, there has been little legal protection against weight discrimination or height discrimination. As of 2023, only the state of Michigan, as well as a handful of U.S. cities–such as San Francisco; Madison, WI; and Urbana, IL–have incorporated weight discrimination bills. Height discrimination is even more neglected.
Height and weight discrimination examples may include various types of disparate treatment due to your body size, such as wage cuts, being fired, or being denied a job.
A step toward justice
Since the Central Park protest over fifty years ago in which hundreds of body positivity activists gathered to protest the injustices faced by heavier people, it has been a long road with little recognition.
Although it should not have taken this long, the signing of this new law is certainly a victory for the body discrimination movement. It is only fitting that it was enacted by the most diverse New York City Council in history.
“Size discrimination is a social justice issue and a public health threat. People with different body types are denied access to job opportunities and equal wages — and they have had no legal recourse to contest it. Worse yet, millions are taught to hate their bodies. As the global beacon of tolerance, it is only right that New York City is leading the national effort to end size discrimination with the signing of this law today,” said New York City Councilmember Shaun Abreu.
The size of your body should have absolutely no bearing on whether or not you are able to find a job or a home. This law is a long overdue step toward a more just city; one in which everyone has an equal chance to succeed, no matter their height or weight. One can only hope that the rest of our nation will begin to follow suit.
We at Filippatos PLLC believe that all people deserve the right to equal employment opportunity, no matter their height or weight. If you are experiencing discrimination at work due to your body size, please give us a call at 888-9-JOBLAW for a free consultation. We will do our utmost to help secure you the justice you deserve.