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New York City passes bill banning weight discrimination

More than 40% of American adults are considered obese, and can experience stigma around their weight (PA Wire)
More than 40% of American adults are considered obese, and can experience stigma around their weight (PA Wire)

New York City has passed a bill making it illegal to discriminate against people based on their weight.

The bill would make it illegal to discriminate against height and weight in housing, employment, and public accommodation, reported the BBC.

The city joins six other US cities and one US state with similar laws including Washington DC and San Francisco. New Jersey, New York state, and Massachusetts are also exploring similar legislation.

Under the legislation, job descriptions that require a certain height or weight to perform a job could be considered discriminatory.

However, employers would not be liable for a claim if a person’s height or weight is crucial to the job.

More than 40% of American adults are considered obese, and can experience stigma around their weight.

The bill was sponsored by City Councilman Shaun Abreu, who said weight discrimination was “a silent burden people have had to carry".

He said he had noticed the phenomenon when he put on weight during lockdown, and that the society was allowing people to be discriminated against for their weight without any recourse.

“We want this bill to send a message to everybody that you matter, regardless of if you’re above or below average weight," he said. “That’s why we pushed this."

While the bill passed 44-5 and is expected to be signed into law later this month, it has also been met with some scepticism.

New York City council’s Republican minority leader, Joseph Borelli told the New York Times: “I’m overweight but I’m not a victim. No-one should feel bad for me except my struggling shirt buttons.”

One of those backing the bill is self-proclaimed ‘fat activist’ Victoria Abraham, who graduated from New York University last year.

“I know that at least when I get a job, if I’m experiencing this discrimination, I have someone supporting me,” she told CNN.

“I have the support of the government; I have legal protection where there wasn’t any before.”

New York law already bars discrimination based on age, marital status, disability, national origin and other characteristics.