New York City outlaws discrimination on the basis of weight, height

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has signed legislation that will ban discrimination based on body size by adding weight and height to the list of protected categories such as race, sex and religion

ByKAREN MATTHEWS Associated Press
May 26, 2023, 4:28 PM
Weight Discrimination Ban NYC
FILE — Two women stand on Aug. 16, 2016, New York. New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed a bill Friday, May 26, 2023, that will prohibit discrimination based on body size by adding weight and height to the list of protected categories like race, sex and religion. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed legislation Friday that will ban discrimination based on body size by adding weight and height to the list of protected categories such as race, sex and religion.

“We all deserve the same access to employment, housing and public accommodation, regardless of our appearance, and it shouldn’t matter how tall you are or how much you weigh,” said the mayor, who joined other elected officials as well as fat-acceptance advocates at a City Hall bill-signing ceremony.

Adams, a Democrat who published a book about reversing his diabetes through a plant-based diet, said the ordinance "will help level the playing field for all New Yorkers, create more inclusive workplaces and living environments, and protect against discrimination."

Exemptions under the ordinance, which the city council passed this month, include cases in which an individual’s height or weight could prevent them from performing essential functions of a job.

Some business leaders expressed opposition to the legislation when it was before the council, arguing that compliance could become an onerous burden.

“The extent of the impact and cost of this legislation has not been fully considered,” Kathy Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, said in a statement.

Several other U.S. cities have banned discrimination based on weight and physical appearance, including San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wisconsin. And legislation to ban weight and height discrimination has been introduced in states including New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Tigress Osborn, the chair of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, said New York City's weight discrimination ban should serve as a model for the nation and the world.

Osborn said the city's adoption of the new ordinance “will ripple across the globe” and show that "discrimination against people based on their body size is wrong and is something that we can change.”

The ordinance will take effect in 180 days, on Nov. 22.