NYC Passes Law Prohibiting Employment Discrimination on the Basis of Height or Weight

On May 11, 2023, the New York City Council adopted a bill to amend the New York City Human Rights Law to include prohibitions on discrimination based on height and weight. This bill adds “height and weight” to the list of categories protected by Title 9 of the New York City Administrative Code, specifically to prohibit discrimination in connection with employment, housing, and access to public accommodations because of a person’s actual or perceived height or weight. Today, May 26, 2023, New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed the bill into law, announcing that “[n]o one should ever be discriminated against based on their height and weight.” The Bill will be effective 180 days from now, or November 22, 2023.

Of importance to employers, the law provides for exemptions (i.e., there is no prohibition on discrimination based on height or weight) where:

  1. Preferential treatment on the basis of height or weight is required by federal, state, or local law or regulation;
  2. An individual’s height or weight could prevent them from performing the essential functions of the job with or without an accommodation; or
  3. A certain height or weight is reasonably necessary for the normal operation of the business.

The Bill charges the New York City Commission on Human Rights with identifying particular jobs or job categories that fit into the above exceptions. Employers should update their employee handbooks (yet again) to account for these new protected characteristics and review any job descriptions that may be affected by these legal changes.