Weight discrimination is prohibited by New York City
why is it important
The law is part of a growing national campaign to combat weight discrimination, with lawmakers in New Jersey and Massachusetts considering similar measures. Michigan and Washington state already ban it, as do some cities, like Washington, D.C.
New Yorkers testified at a City Council hearing earlier this year about discrimination because of their weight. A New York University student said the desks in the classrooms were too small for her. A Metropolitan Opera soprano has said she faced body-shaming and pressure to develop an eating disorder.
Some business leaders and Republicans had expressed concerns about the bill, including Kathryn S. Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a business advocacy group, who said it could be a onerous mandate for companies and impose a burden on regulators. and the judicial system.
Obesity rates have increased in the United States over the past two decades, and more than 40% of American adults are considered obese.
The body acceptance movement and self-proclaimed fat activists have sought to reduce the stigma and shame around weight. Podcasts like “Maintenance Phase” have raised awareness that not all overweight people are unhealthy and that diets often fail.
New York City has been a center of fat activism since at least the 1960s, when a crowd of 500 held a “fat in” in Central Park.
Tigress Osborn, president of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, a nonprofit advocacy group, said she hopes other cities will approve similar laws to send the message that size discrimination is a “serious injustice”.
The bill’s sponsor, Shaun Abreu, a councilor in upper Manhattan, said he gained weight during the pandemic and noticed people treated him differently. He said the law would make employers think twice before discriminating against heavier people and raise awareness of the problem.
“It’s also about changing the culture in how we think about weight,” he said.
Complaints about weight discrimination will be investigated by the city’s Human Rights Commission, which already reviews complaints about race, gender and other issues.
New York state lawmakers are also considering a weight discrimination law. The municipal law will come into force in 180 days.