New York City is set to become the largest US city to ban weight discrimination.
On Thursday, the New York City Council approved a bill that would add a person’s weight to a list of characteristics protected from discrimination, along with race, gender, age, religion and sexual orientation.
The law prohibits employers and companies from discriminating in hiring, housing, and access to public places.
Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat who wrote a book about losing 35 pounds on a plant-based diet, didn’t commit to signing the bill, but he was supportive of the effort.
“We should never treat people differently because of their weight,” Mr. Adams said at a news conference last month.
The bill, approved by 44 of the 51 city council members, is part of a growing national campaign to tackle weight discrimination, with New Jersey legislators And Massachusetts Consider similar measures. Michigan and Washington state already ban it, as do some cities, like Washington, D.C. state legislators in New York. Consider the Weight Discrimination Act.
Some business leaders and Republicans have expressed concerns about the bill, including Catherine S. It was left to the courts, placing a burden on employers, regulators and the judicial system.
The bill’s sponsor, Sean Abreu, a council member from northern Manhattan who said he gained weight during the pandemic, said he hopes the law will raise awareness about treating heavier people with respect. He said he was confident the mayor would sign the law because his office helped him negotiate the details.
“This vote is more than just providing a legal remedy for lawsuits against employers and landlords for the use of weight as a factor,” he said. “It’s also about changing the culture in how we think about weight.”
The city has been a hub of physical activity since at least the 1960s, when a crowd of 500 “fat” people set up in Central Park. Carrying signs reading “Fat Power,” the group raised concerns about discrimination that advocates say has persisted for decades.
“The fight against obesity not only breaks our hearts, it drains our wallets, steals our opportunities, and limits our lives,” said Tigress Osborne, president of the National Association to Promote Fat Acceptance, a nonprofit advocacy group, earlier this year at a city council hearing regarding project of law.
Bill It also prohibits discrimination based on height, and does a separate bill Prohibition of discrimination against tattoo owners. It creates exceptions for certain circumstances, including when a person’s height or weight can get in the way of performing essential skills for the job. Some jobs, like police officers and firefighters, for example, have physical requirements Like a timed run or climbing over a six-foot barrier.
Under the bill, complaints of weight discrimination would be investigated by the city’s Human Rights Commission, which already handles complaints about race, gender and pregnancy.
Some workers have unsuccessfully filed weight discrimination lawsuits in the past, including A.J A bus driver in New Jersey lost his job After failing the medical exam, he was a New York City firefighter Said to lose 71 pounds in 30 days.
At a city council hearing, New Yorkers testified about being discriminated against because of their weight. A New York University student said the seats in her classrooms were too small for her, which prevented her from taking notes. A Metropolitan Opera soprano said she faced body shame and pressure to develop an eating disorder or to have bariatric surgery.
Ms Osborne celebrated the bill’s approval on Thursday and said it sent a message to the rest of the world that size discrimination is a “serious injustice”.
“Now is the time for lawmakers across the country to ensure that everyone and everyone is protected by the law and equal opportunity,” she said.
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