Last month, the New York City legislature enacted Int. No. 209-A. The new local law specifically addresses rising social justice concerns about sizeism by prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s height or weight in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
According to the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA), a social justice organization working to achieve equality at every size, one-third of the world’s population is fat, however only a handful of cities and states have enacted laws to protect them from sizeism. Moreover, NAAFA reports that sizeism is particularly evident in employment settings where obese people continually experience lower wages compared to their slimmer counterparts. The social justice organization also shines a light on problems within heath care where disrespectful treatment and medical fat shaming can cause delays in necessary treatment.
It is New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ hope that this new legislation will help level the playing field for individuals of all sizes. However, there are a few notable exceptions to the overall prohibition. Exemptions include:
- Employers needing to consider height or weight in employment decisions pursuant to federal, state, or local laws or regulations.
- Where considerations of height and weight are permitted by the Commission on Human Rights because height and weight may prevent the performance of essential requirements of the job and no alternative is available.
- Where considerations of height and weight are reasonably necessary for the normal operation of a business.
- Considerations of height and weight by operators or providers of public accommodations.
Additionally, where Int. No. 209-A creates an avenue to legal recourse for size discrimination, it also provides covered entities with the affirmative defense that their actions were reasonably necessary for normal operations.
If you have any questions on how Int. No. 209-A will affect your business or would like help updating your policies and employee handbooks, Campanella Law Office can help.