Height and Weight Discrimination

New York City Employment Attorneys for Height and Weight Discrimination

The New York City Human Rights Law provides strong protection from discrimination based on a range of different protected characteristics to workers in all five boroughs of the city. While a movement has long been gathering to ban height and weight discrimination, this type of adverse treatment has remained an aspect of workplaces across the country. Employers and others have been able to harbor stereotypes about those who are “too skinny,” “fat,” or “big”, and draw unfair conclusions about a worker’s career because of them.  However, New York City has changed its legal position on this form of humiliating and painful discrimination in workplaces and other places. In May of 2023, Mayor Eric Adams signed height and weight anti-discrimination provisions into the New York City Human Rights Law. These provisions, which prohibit height, weight, and body size have been in effect since November 26, 2023. If you believe you were subject to adverse treatment in the workplace because of how tall or heavy you are, you should call the seasoned New York City height and weight discrimination lawyers of Phillips & Associates. We offer free initial consultations and, understanding how difficult it is to have your livelihood threatened, represent clients on a contingency fee basis.

Fighting Height and Weight Discrimination

The NYC Human Rights Law protects workers in New York City from employment discrimination, harassment, ore retaliation based on their height or weight or body size as well as housing and public accommodations such as restaurants. To be protected by this law when you’re on the job, you must work for an employer with 4 or more employees or one or more domestic workers, and your height, weight or body size must have been a factor that caused your employer to take adverse action against you. 

Examples of Height and Weight Discrimination

Your employer is not permitted to refuse to hire or to fire you based on your actual or perceived height, weight or body size. Likewise it must not engage in the following employment actions based on these protected characteristics: 

  • Provide different conditions of employment 
  • Generate or allow a hostile work environment
  • Tell you that you may be treated differently 
  • Refuse to promote you
  • Pay you differently
  • Harass you or express offensive opinions those with protected traits. 

It may be actionable discrimination, for example, for a restaurateur to refuse to hire you to the position of server in a restaurant because you are obese, and he thinks it will result in fewer customers. Likewise, you may be able to sue if your employer calls you names like “Fatty” or “anorexic” and won’t promote you because your body size makes him uncomfortable. Your employer also should not create a hostile work environment by allowing your coworkers to harass you about your “spare tire” or your “eating disorder.” Some circumstances may involve not only height and weight discrimination, but also discrimination based on another characteristic such as a medical condition or disability for which you need a reasonable accommodation.

Exceptions to Height and Weight Anti-discrimination Law

In certain situations, employers can take your body size into account, but these exceptions are supposed to be interpreted in as narrow a way as possible to bolster equitable workplace treatment. The exemption allows the consideration of height and weight when required by federal, state or local laws or where the Commission on Human Rights, which enforces the law, allows those conditions because your height or weight stops you from performing essential job requirements and there are no alternatives available. For instance if a theater production company needs an actress to look a particular way in order for the play’s dialogue to make sense, this might fall into an exemption depending on whether there is an alternative way of handling things. 

Additionally, there may be an exemption if an employer needs to take height and weight into account because doing so is reasonably necessary to operate a business normally. However, an employer’s claim that it needs an employee with a particular height or weight may require a difficulty legal analysis, and it’s important to discuss the particular facts you face with a seasoned and sophisticated lawyer to make sure that you are being treated appropriately.

Consult Seasoned Employment Lawyers If You Experience Height or Weight Discrimination on the Job

At Phillips and Associates, our trustworthy new York City trial lawyers provide strong legal representation to workers who faced height, weight, and body size discrimination. We handle employment discrimination lawsuits based on the New York City Human Rights Law in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Please complete our online form or call us at (866) 229-9441 for a free consultation.  

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