The New York City Council is considering a bill that would ban discrimination based on weight in employment, housing and public accommodations.
The legislation, which was introduced last year, would prohibit discrimination based on a person’s actual or perceived height or weight in those three areas. It would include exceptions for employers who need to consider height or weight as a “bona fide occupational qualification” that is reasonably necessary to conduct business and for operators or providers of public accommodations where height or weight qualifications are factors in public safety or health.
The legislation had hearings in the city’s civil and human rights and state and federal legislation committees at the end of last month, and The Washington Post reported that it will likely be voted on in the upcoming weeks.
Michigan is the only state in the country that has passed a law to declare weight is a protected category from discrimination along with other factors like race and religion. The Washington Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that obesity is covered by the state’s anti-discrimination law.
A few cities like San Francisco and Madison, Wis., have also banned weight discrimination.
The Post reported that state legislatures in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Jersey are considering their own legislation to prohibit weight discrimination.
New York City Council member Shaun Abreu, who sponsored the bill, told the Post that Mayor Eric Adams has signaled that he supports the legislation.
“This was long overdue as a civil rights issue. It’s super important that we treat everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Abreu said. “At the end of the day, this is about job security, this is about housing security. If someone looks a certain way, if someone is of a different body size or has higher weight, who cares?”
The American Psychological Association reported last year that more than 40 percent of adults said they have experienced some form of stigma related to their weight at some point in their lives.
The World Obesity Foundation reports that people with obesity also will likely make less and receive fewer promotions at work.