New Discrimination Law – Height and Weight (UPDATE)

On May 26, 2023, NYC Mayor Eric Adams signed into law amendments to the NYC Human Rights Law banning height and weight discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and housing. The law includes height and weight as protected characteristics together with race, religion, and disability.

The amendments will take effect 180 days after signature, which will be November 22, 2023.

Employers will be permitted to consider a person’s height and weight if they are key to a person’s ability to perform essential functions of a job and there is no alternative action the employer can take that would allow the person to do so, or if required by federal, state, or local law or regulations, or if permitted by regulations issued by the NYC Human Rights Commission (when issued). We expect that “customer preferences” or similar concepts likely will not serve as a basis for allowing appearance-based employment decisions.

This is a significant development for NYC employers given that its Human Rights protects not only employees, but also applicants, independent contractors, and interns of appliable employers.

Over time and the issuance of regulations or other guidance by the NYC Commission on Human Rights, employers will be positioned to better understand the scope of these exceptions and how they impact height and weight employment-based decision-making.

In preparation for the new measure, employers with employees in New York City should:

• Reexamine and update their job descriptions where necessary.

• Review and revise their anti-discrimination/anti-harassment policies to incorporate height and weight as protected categories.

• Revise their employee handbooks.

• Update harassment and discrimination training courses to highlight these newly developed protected categories.

• Train Human Resources professionals, supervisors and managers on how these newly proposed requirements will impact day-to-day operations, hiring processes, and employee interactions, to assure compliance.

Book Law LLP stands ready to assist employers with all their compliance obligations.

If you have questions or concerns about the NYC discrimination laws or any federal or New York State discrimination laws, please contact Chaim Book at cbook@booklawllp.com, Sheryl Galler at SGaller@booklawllp.com, or Nadav Zamir at NZamir@booklawllp.com.

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