A New York City weight discrimination law goes into effect later this year.
The mayor in late May 2023 signed the ordinance, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s height or weight in employment. It also applies to housing and public accommodations.
The New York City weight discrimination law goes into effect Nov. 22, 2023.
Employment Law Compliance. Simplified.
New York City Weight Discrimination Law
Once the new ordinance takes effect, the New York City Commission on Human Rights will investigate weight and height complaints under the revised city human rights law, which already includes protected characteristics that include:
- Sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity)
- National origin
- Genetic information
However, there are several exemptions for employers under the law, including:
- When required by federal, state or local laws, and/or regulations
- When the individual’s height or weight could prevent them from doing the job when there is no legitimate alternative
- When a person’s height or weight is necessary for normal business operations
While the New York City weight discrimination law may seem unique, there are other jurisdictions with similar laws on the books, such as Michigan, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. At the same time, some states are also considering similar legislation.
Lastly, with height and weight considered protected classes, city officials will handle such discrimination cases like the others listed above, meaning employees can sue for damages, including back pay, attorneys’ fees, etc.
Employment Law Compliance
The news out of New York City highlights the continued employment law challenges facing organizations that operate in multiple jurisdictions.
From states with hair discrimination laws to the rise of pay transparency laws, the use of AI in hiring and more, there are constant hurdles facing large employers and compliance.
Meanwhile, the rise of employment law legislation in recent years seems to have led to more class-action litigation, which could be a reflection of the sheer volume of new bills introduced and passed each legislative session.
More than 110 jurisdictions now have their own minimum wage law. Dozens of states, counties and cities have enacted paid leave legislation. And all these laws add up to new labor law posters, which saw a jump from 516 updates in 2021 to more than 650 in 2022.
These laws, and updates to others (as is the case with the New York City weight discrimination law), continue to keep employers on their toes.
Employers with locations in the Big Apple should prepare for the New York City weight discrimination law.
That could involve examining work conditions in certain locations and determining whether some employment accommodations may be needed for large or tall employees.
Plus, when these types of laws update, it’s always a good idea to review internal policies and practices, ensure company handbooks comply with the new law and consider any potential pitfalls.
As a reminder, the law goes into effect Nov. 22, 2023.