Quick Hits

  • New York City’s ban on height and weight discrimination is set to go into effect on November 22, 2023.
  • The law prohibits discrimination based on actual or perceived height and weight of employees and job applicants but contains exceptions for situations where height and weight might be necessary to consider.

On May 26, 2023, New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed Int. No. 209-A, which amends the New York City Human Rights law by adding both “height” and “weight” to the list of protected characteristics under the law. The change prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of the “actual or perceived” height or weight of employees and job applicants.

The law allows employers to consider height or weight when required by federal, state, or local law or regulation; when permitted by regulation adopted by the New York City Commission on Human Rights; and in other situations where height or weight are material to an employee or job applicant “performing the essential requisites of the job” or where “consideration of height or weight criteria is reasonably necessary for the execution of the [employer’s] normal operations.”

Employers will be allowed to assert as affirmative defenses to alleged violations of the law that “a person’s height or weight prevent[ed] the person from performing the essential requisites of the job”; and the employer’s height- or weight-based decision was “reasonably necessary for the execution of the [employer’s] normal operations.”

Next Steps

If not done already, employers may want to review their antidiscrimination policies in light of the new requirements of the amended New York City Human Rights law.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor developments and will provide updates on the New York blog.

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