New York City’s Human Rights Law will soon expand to include height and weight as protected classes under the law. Pursuant to the amended law, New York City employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations are prohibited from denying employment opportunities, refusing to hire, or otherwise discriminating against individuals because of height or weight.
“Height” and “weight” join the following protected classes under the city’s Human Rights Law: age; immigration or citizenship status; color; disability; gender (including sexual harassment); gender Identity; marital status and partnership status; national origin; pregnancy and lactation accommodations; race; religion/creed; sexual orientation; and status as a veteran or active military service member.
Exceptions exist under the law regarding an action based on a person’s height or weight when such action is:
- required by federal, state, or local law or regulation, or
- permitted by regulation adopted by the New York City Human Rights Commission identifying particular jobs or categories of jobs for which
- a person’s height or weight could prevent performing the essential requisites of the job, and
- The New York City Human Rights Commission has not found alternative action that covered entities could reasonably take to allow persons who do not meet the height or weight criteria to perform the essential requisites of the job or category of jobs, or
- permitted by regulation adopted by the Commission identifying particular jobs or categories of jobs for which consideration of height or weight criteria is reasonably necessary for the execution of the normal operations of a covered entity.
Additionally, potential affirmative defenses available to covered entities under the law include:
- a person’s height or weight prevents the person from performing the essential requisites of the job, and there is no alternative action the covered entity could reasonably take that would allow the person to perform the essential requisites of the job, or
- the covered entity’s decision based on height or weight criteria is reasonably necessary for the execution of the normal operations of the covered entity.
The law goes into effect on November 22, 2023.