Experiencing discrimination at work because of your weight or height can be a profoundly distressing and harmful experience. In many jurisdictions across the United States, such forms of discrimination are not explicitly prohibited under the law, leaving those affected without legal recourse. However, the great city of New York stands out for its progressive legal framework, offering valuable protections against weight and height discrimination.

Within the cosmopolitan fabric of New York City, the law recognizes the diversity of body sizes, shapes, and heights as a part of its commitment to equal rights. New York City, under the leadership of Mayor Adams, passed a groundbreaking amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) that explicitly includes weight and height as protected characteristics. This comprehensive legal provision acts as a safety net for all employees in the city, offering an avenue for redress in situations where individuals have been subject to differential treatment based on their physical appearance.

Under this legal framework, employers are prohibited from treating employees or job applicants unfavorably due to their weight or height. Examples of such discrimination may include but are not limited to denying promotions, withholding training opportunities, terminating employment, or creating a hostile work environment because of an individual’s weight or height.

Suppose you’re applying for a position in a retail store, and despite having relevant experience and excellent recommendations, you’re denied the role because the manager believes your height needs to align with their brand image. In this case, you might have grounds for a claim under NYCHRL.

In another example, imagine you have been working in a corporate setting for several years, receiving accolades for your work, but are repeatedly passed over for a promotion. You learn that this is due to your weight, which management perceives as a mark against your “leadership image.” Such a case would clearly violate your rights as defined under the city’s laws.

The law also extends to situations where employers categorize jobs based on physical characteristics such as weight or height, limiting certain positions to individuals of a particular size or stature. An instance of this would be a company that only allows individuals over a certain height to apply for roles that involve public interaction. In contrast, those under that height are relegated to back-office jobs. Such a policy could be a violation of the NYCHRL.

It’s worth noting that the law does provide some exceptions. Employers can make employment decisions based on weight or height if it’s a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary for the regular operation of the particular business. However, such exceptions are rare and must meet a very high legal standard. For example, certain public safety or transportation roles may necessitate specific physical requirements, but these are narrowly defined and rigorously scrutinized.

While this amendment to the NYCHRL is a significant step towards inclusive and fair employment practices, navigating the intricacies of these laws can be challenging. Having a knowledgeable legal ally in your corner can be invaluable in protecting your rights and interests. Our firm is deeply familiar with the employment law landscape in New York City. We are committed to advocating for employees who have experienced discrimination due to their weight or height. Our team is well-versed in the nuances of the NYCHRL and stays current with all changes and amendments that can affect your rights as an employee.

No one should feel devalued or disadvantaged at work because of their physical characteristics. If you believe you’ve been a victim of weight or height discrimination in New York City, it’s important to remember that the law is on your side. Our firm stands ready to assist you in understanding your rights, exploring your legal options, and pursuing a path to justice.

Contact a Seasoned and Qualified Discrimination Attorney 

The attorneys of Risman & Risman, P.C. can advise you on the different forms of weight or height discrimination and answer specific questions regarding your claim. Know the facts before proceeding. Our discrimination attorneys are eager to discuss your concerns with you. There is no charge for the consultation. Please call us at (212) 233-6400 or online.


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