Apple and Pear Diversity

Cheers for Banning Weight Discrimination in NYC

Every now and then, it feels really good to score a win. On Thursday, the New York City Council passed a bill to add weight and height to the city’s list of characteristics protected from discrimination. Presently, that list includes race, gender, age, religion, and sexual orientation. If Mayor Eric Adams signs this bill into law (this seems likely), weight discrimination will be illegal in employment, housing, and public accommodations in NYC.

Public Accommodations Are Important

Employment discrimination may come to mind first when thinking about weight discrimination. Certainly, no one should lose a job simply because an employer doesn’t like their body size or shape.

But NYC banning weight discrimination in public accommodations might turn out to be an even bigger win. This includes restaurants, hotels, shops, theaters, schools, gyms, and healthcare. These are the places where people living in larger bodies face daily rejection, discrimination, and alienation – a thousand tiny cuts to human dignity. Looking forward, rejecting people of size in these enterprises will not be a wise choice.

Problem Solved?

As good as this feels, even for people who seldom venture outside the city, the problem of weight discrimination will not evaporate. Enforcement of laws against discrimination is never easy. People can be nasty and difficult. The Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit advocacy group for profit-making businesses, says complying with this new law may be costly. President Kathryn Wylde called it an onerous mandate that raises legal risks for doing business in New York.

Yes, treating people with respect can be quite a task. The concept of emotional labor comes to mind. But it does make life better.

Click here, here, and here for more on this decision.

Apple and Pear Diversity, photograph by Alexandre Dulaunoy, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


May 13, 2023