Here’s the Skinny: New York City Passes Bill Banning Weight Discrimination

Statute would affect jobs, housing and public accommodations.

David Talukdar / Getty Images

The New York City Council on Thursday passed a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on their height or weight in housing, employment and public accommodations.

Only six other cities and one state have similar laws protecting Americans against height and weight discrimination.

Weight discrimination tends to hit women — particularly women of color — the hardest.

Women considered obese earned 22% less per hour than women considered normal weight, a Vanderbilt University study discovered.

“It’s not only protecting people in the workplace from this or in getting apartments, but it’s also about changing culture,” said the lead sponsor of the bill, New York City Councilmember Shaun Abreu, who revealed he has personally grappled with the issue.

He said a friend recently "touched" his stomach and remarked: "'We’re getting bigger there, buddy.’ It speaks to the toxic culture that exists in the United States when it comes to people that are above their average peers' weight,” said Abreu.

Experienced fitness instructor Jennifer Portnick told CNN she was rejected for a job as an exercise teacher in San Francisco several years ago because of her weight. But after she brought the issue to the city's Human Rights Commission, the company changed its weight policies because San Francisco also bars discrimination for weight and height.

Madison, Wis.; Birmingham, N.Y.; Santa Cruz, Calif.; Washhington, D.C., Urbana, Ill., and the state of Michigan have similar laws.

Start your day with the biggest stories and exclusive reporting from The Messenger Morning, our weekday newsletter.
By signing up, you agree to our privacy policy and terms of use.
Sign Up.