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Mayor Adams Signs Legislation To Prohibit Height Or Weight Discrimination In Employment, Housing, And Public Accommodations

May 26, 2023

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NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams today signed Intro. 209-A, which will prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s height or weight in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

“No one should ever be discriminated against based on their height and weight. We all deserve the same access to employment, housing, and public accommodations, regardless of our appearance,” said Mayor Adams. “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, create more inclusive workplaces and living environments, and protect against discrimination. I want to thank Councilmember Shaun Abreu for introducing this legislation, and Speaker Adams and Councilmember Nantasha Williams for their support of the bill.”

“The Commission is dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of individuals and groups that have faced discrimination because of who they are or how they identify,” said New York City Commission on Human Rights Commissioner and Chair Annabel Palma. “Most forms of appearance-based discrimination have persisted unchecked. The New York City Human Rights Law now makes clear that no one should be denied an opportunity based on height or weight in employment, housing, and public accommodations. As we have done for decades, the Commission looks forward to working with all stakeholders to cultivate an equitable city for all.” 

Intro. 209-A — sponsored by New York City Councilmember Shaun Abreau — will prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s height or weight in employment, housing, and public accommodations. This law will also create an exemption for employers needing to consider height or weight in employment decisions only where required by federal, state, or local laws or regulations or where the Commission on Human Rights permits such considerations because height or weight may prevent a person from performing essential requirements of a job and no alternative is available or this criteria is reasonably necessary for the normal operation of the business.

This bill would similarly permit consideration of height or weight by operators or providers of public accommodations. Covered entities under this law would have an affirmative defense that their actions based on a person’s height or weight were reasonably necessary for normal operations.

“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. “Over fifty years ago, hundreds of body positivity activists gathered in Central Park to protest the daily injustices faced by heavier people. While it took way too long to enact something so basic and widely supported, it is only fitting that the most diverse New York City Council in history is the one to enshrine this anti-discrimination principle into law, in the very city where this movement began. I owe an immense debt of gratitude to all the people who shared their stories of dealing with this silent burden, the organizations who helped spearhead this campaign, and all the advocates who helped push this over the finish line.”

“The RWDSU stands in support of ending all forms of discrimination in the workplace,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “Mayor Adams just took a big step towards that goal by signing into law a ban on height and weight discrimination in the workplace. This law will change countless workers’ lives for the better. As a union that represents thousands of workers in the fashion retail industry, we are acutely aware of how size discrimination impacts workers’ job opportunities, as well as their earning potential and career advancement opportunities. Workers come in all shapes and sizes and that is a good thing. We are pleased to have worked in partnership with Councilmember Abreu, NAAFA and the Retail Action Project to pass this bill. Every single New Yorker deserves the right to a workplace free of all forms of prejudice and discrimination.”

“This is such a powerful moment for anyone who has ever faced discrimination simply because of the size of their body,” said Tigress Osborn, chair, National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA); co-founder, Campaign for Size Freedom. “When the mayor of one the most iconic cities in the world agrees that size discrimination is unacceptable, it sends a message to leaders all over the country, and all over the world, that creating equal opportunities and accessible communities for people of all sizes should be a priority.”

“Thank you, Mayor Adams for standing against size discrimination and signing the bill to ban it,” said Eno Awotoye, coordinator, Retail Action Project (RAP). “This is a huge victory for New York City workers, because no longer will workers be forced to fit some mold in order to be able to make a living. New York City workers can now pursue job opportunities and seek advancement without the fear of being shut out because of their size. This is a new day for New York City workers — it’s about skills and experience, not size!” 

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