New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed into law a bill Friday which bans discrimination based on height and weight in employment, housing and public accommodations.
“It shouldn’t matter how tall you are, or how much you weigh, when you’re looking for a job, when you’re out on our town, or you are trying to get some form of accommodation or an apartment to rent, you should not be treated differently,” said Adams in a signing ceremony.
The law has an exemption for when a person’s weight or height would prevent them from performing a job’s essential requirements, the mayor said. The law is slated to take effect in 180 days, or on Nov. 22.
Six other cities — including San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — and the state of Michigan, also have similar bans on height and weight discrimination.
Weight discrimination is widespread, but reportedly hits women the hardest, especially women of color. A study by Vanderbilt University found overweight women earning $5.25 less per hour, a so-called wage penalty.
“It helps level the playing field for all New Yorkers,” Adams said.
Tigress Osborn, chair of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, said New York City’s new law could help spur similar legislation worldwide.
“We all know New York is the global city, and this will ripple across the globe in terms of showing to people, all over the world, that discrimination against people based on their body size is wrong and is something that we can change,” said Osborn, who led a rally earlier this year to push for the bill to become law. “We can’t legislate attitudes, but we can do everything that’s in our power to ensure that people are treated equally,”
New York City Council Member Shaun Abreu, who sponsored the legislation, said the first rallies to end height and weight discrimination took place over 50 years ago in Central Park.
“This is a new day in New York City and I couldn’t be more grateful,” said Abreu.
In addition to wage penalties, supporters of the new law say body discrimination can sometimes deny people life-saving medical treatment and cause mental health challenges.