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Weight discrimination is now illegal in NYC

Michael Gartland, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK — People who are overweight, tall or short in New York City will now be protected from discrimination rooted in those characteristics under a bill Mayor Adams signed into law Friday — a measure advocates hope will prompt other cities to follow suit.

The law, which was sponsored by City Councilman Shaun Abreu, bans weight and height discrimination in the workplace, in housing and in access to public accommodations.

“It shouldn’t matter how tall you are or how much you weigh,” Adams said. “When you’re looking for a job, or you’re out on our town, or trying to get some form of accommodation or apartment to rent, you should not be treated differently.”

The law goes into effect in six months and builds on measures already in place that protect against discrimination based on race, creed, color, national origin and gender, among several other protected characteristics.

Tigress Osborn, who heads the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, said Friday that she’s “thrilled” with the city for the example it’s setting and that the new law “will ripple across the globe.”

“We can’t legislate attitudes, but we can do everything that’s in our power to ensure that people are treated equally,” she said during the bill signing in City Hall’s Blue Room.


Discrimination based on weight is already prohibited in Washington D.C., Michigan and the state of Washington. Similar legislation is under consideration in New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Abreu, a Democrat who represents parts of Upper Manhattan, called the city’s new law a “monumental advancement for civil rights” and said he hopes other lawmakers take notice.

“While our law are only now catching up to our culture, it is a victory that I hope will cause more cities, states and one day the federal government to follow suit,” he said. “No one should have to live with the silent burden of size discrimination.”

When Abreu first introduced his bill, it was accompanied by separate legislation that would have prohibited against discriminating against people with tattoos. But that bill did not get a vote by the full Council.


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