New York City May Soon Allow Lawsuits from Fat People for ‘Weight Discrimination’


New York City may soon provide a new legal avenue for people to sue over discrimination based on their physical appearance.

A bill protecting individuals against discrimination on the basis of height and weight, referred to as “appearance-based discrimination” by some advocates, was passed 44-5 by the NYC Council on Thursday. Mayor Eric Adams (D) is expected to sign the measure into law soon.

The bill, if signed, would permit lawsuits in New York City’s Commission on Human Rights if an individual faces discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations due to their appearance.

Advocates say that the bill could help tackle discrimination against overweight and obese individuals who face unfair treatment in these areas. However, critics argue that the bill could lead to a flood of frivolous lawsuits and is another example of overregulation in New York City.

The New York City Council has passed a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against people based on their height and weight, adding to the list of protected categories. Shaun Abreu, the council member who introduced the bill, stated that discrimination based on physical appearance is no different from other forms of discrimination. However, there are exceptions in cases where either height or weight is a “bona fide occupational qualification” or poses a risk to public health or safety. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Mayor Eric Adams.

NYC Council Member Shaun Abreu explained that the new law was created to assist individuals whose weight is not essential to the job. “This law is designed to help those where weight has nothing to do with the essential job functions of a role,” he said.

22-year-old activist Victoria Abraham spoke in favor of the bill before the city council, stating that it is necessary to protect a population that commonly faces weight-based discrimination. “In most places in the United States, you can get fired for being fat and have no protection at all, which is crazy because this is a very fat country,” Abraham said. She describes herself as a “fat fab feminist” on social media.

Abraham acknowledged that there are gaps in the bill, but views it as a crucial first step. “Are their gaps in this bill? For sure,” she said. “But I think it’s the perfect first step.”

“I’m overweight, but I’m not a victim,” he asserted, adding that “no one should feel bad for me except my struggling shirt buttons.” said Republican Council Member Joseph Borelli

Detractors of the bill are worried that the new measure will be exploited by those who want to ‘sue anyone and everything,'” said Republican Council Member Joseph Borelli. “I’m overweight, but I’m not a victim,” he asserted, adding that “no one should feel bad for me except my struggling shirt buttons.”

If signed into law by Mayor Eric Adams, New York City will become the sixth major city to outlaw weight-based discrimination, following in the footsteps of Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Santa Cruz, California, Madison, Wisconsin, and Urbana, Illinois. Michigan banned such discrimination almost 50 years ago, and New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Vermont are currently considering similar bans.

“It’s not a health issue,” Lecheler stated, “it’s a civil rights issue.

Tegan Lecheler, representing the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance, hopes that the trend toward protecting fat people from discrimination will continue. “It’s not a health issue,” Lecheler stated, “it’s a civil rights issue. This is really about if people are safe and protected and have the right to be in spaces.”


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