As of November 26, 2023, the New York City Human Rights Law makes discrimination on the basis of an individual’s height or weight unlawful. Accordingly, an employer may not discharge or refuse to hire an individual, or provide an individual with less advantageous terms, conditions, or benefits of employment on the basis of actual or perceived height or weight.
The law now also prohibits any New York City employer from publishing any statement or advertisement that expresses an actual or intended limitation as to height or weight in hiring or employment, including on any form of application for employment or any inquiry in connection with prospective employment. The new law includes exceptions where consideration of height or weight is required by federal, state or local law, or is permitted by a regulation that is expected to be issued by the New York City Human Rights Commission identifying particular jobs or categories of jobs.
Employers do have an affirmative defense if they can prove the height or weight requirement is a legitimate job qualification and that there are no steps the employer could take which would allow someone to perform the job despite not meeting that qualification.
New York City employers should update their employment policies and procedures to reflect this change and ensure that any anti-discrimination policies reflect the new prohibitions against height and weight discrimination. They also should ensure that job postings, job applications and job descriptions do not have the appearance or consequence of excluding or discriminating against individuals because of their height or weight.