A recently implemented city law in New York, effective six months after Mayor Eric Adams initially signed the legislation, prohibits discrimination based on height or weight. This addition expands the list of protected characteristics, including age, gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation, shielding individuals from housing, job, and public discrimination, as reported by the New York Times. NYC City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Councilman Shaun Abreu jointly emphasized the importance of protecting all New Yorkers, irrespective of body shape or size, from discrimination, addressing the significant impact of body size discrimination on medical treatment, employment, housing, and public access.
The groundbreaking anti-discrimination law, approved by the City Council in May, aims to address harmful disparities and existing injustices. Mayor Eric Adams, who signed the bill into law the same month, emphasized that heavier individuals should not face differential treatment in job applications, challenging the misconception linking body type to health. The law responds to the testimony of New Yorkers who shared experiences of the detrimental effects of weight discrimination during a city council hearing earlier this year.
The testimonies included instances such as a NYU student facing discomfort in classrooms due to small desks and a Metropolitan Opera singer encountering body-shaming and nearly developing an eating disorder. This move positions New York City as a trailblazer in anti-discrimination legislation, with similar measures under consideration in New Jersey and Massachusetts, and enacted bans in places like Michigan and Washington State. Councilman Abreu, the sponsor of the NYC bill, emphasized its role in raising awareness and protecting individuals against employer bias, highlighting the need for a cultural shift in perceptions of weight.
The city’s Commission on Human Rights will handle investigations into complaints related to weight discrimination, recognizing the prevalence of obesity among American adults, estimated at around 42 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.