NYC Enacts New Law Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Height & Weight

Jun 7 2023

Amanda DeMatteis: Hi, Josh.

Josh Goodbaum: Hi, Amanda. What are we gonna talk about today?

DeMatteis: I hear New York has a new law that prevents a novel form of discrimination, and I was hoping you could talk to us about that.

Goodbaum: Yeah, this is really interesting. On May 26th, 2023, New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed a new law for New York City that adds height and weight to other more widely-known protected characteristics, like race or age or sex.

So that means that, in New York City, there cannot be discrimination on the basis of height and weight in public accommodations, in housing, and, most importantly for our purposes, in employment — unless those characteristics are reasonably necessary for normal operations of a business.

Now you might be asking, “Is this a problem? Are people subjected to discrimination on the basis of height and weight?” Well, at least with respect to weight, we know the answer is yes. According to one study, overweight women earned an average of 4.5% less than their slimmer peers. For men, the difference was less; it was 2.3%, but it was still significant. And we know that over 40% of American adults are considered obese. So this is an issue that affects a lot of Americans, including a lot of folks in Connecticut.

Now, these are areas of protection that are being increasingly recognized. There are restrictions on discrimination on the basis of weight already in the law of several states and municipalities, and they’re being considered in other states — not in Connecticut yet that we’re aware of, but they might be soon.

New York City is often a harbinger of new equal employment opportunity laws, and I should add that there might already be protections for folks who are of unusual height or weight because unusual height or weight might be a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act or under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act.

So, if you’re a Connecticut employee who is experiencing discrimination on the basis of your height or weight, don’t assume that just because you don’t live in New York City, you’re not protected. You might be protected, and it’s important for you to consult an employment lawyer in Connecticut if that’s something you’re experiencing at work.

DeMatteis: So useful, Josh. Thank you so much for educating our viewers, and we’ll see you next time.

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amanda dematteis discussing height and weight discrimination law

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