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  • Before the bill's passage, only Michigan had a similar law
  • The bill is now at the desk of Mayor Eric Adams, awaiting his signature
  • The author of the bill hopes the new measure will trigger cultural change

The New York City Council on Thursday approved a bill banning weight discrimination when it comes to work, housing, or public accommodation.

The newly approved bill amended another city law to add weight and height to the list of identifiers considered protected, like race, sexual orientation, gender identity and national origin, the Associated Press reported.

Under the new measure, employers and businesses are prohibited from discriminating in employment, housing and access to public facilities and accommodations based on one's physique.

"People with different body types are not only denied jobs and promotions that they deserve, their whole existence has also been denied by a society that has offered no legal remedy for this prejudice," New York City Councilmember and bill sponsor Shaun Abreu said, per AP.

The bill's passing makes New York City the largest American city to ban weight discrimination, per the New York Times. Before its passing, Michigan was the only state with a similar law, while a court in Washington state ruled that obesity was covered under an anti-discrimination law for employees with disabilities.

The approved bill will now go to Mayor Eric Adams' desk for signature. Although he never committed to signing the bill, he has been supportive of the effort.

"We should never treat people differently because of their weight," Adams said last month at a news conference, according to the New York Times.

Abreu hopes the measure could also trigger cultural change.

"It's not only protecting people in the workplace from this or in getting apartments, but it's also about changing culture," Abreu said, according to CNN.

He also shared that a similar bill existed before he took it as a sponsor. However, since facing weight discrimination himself, he took the lead to pass it.

"Just recently someone who I considered to be a friend came up to me and touched my stomach and said, 'We're getting bigger there, buddy.' And it just speaks to the toxic culture that exists in the United States when it comes to people that are above their average peers' weight," Abreu added.

Meanwhile, some groups have expressed concern over the bill being overly broad, which could open up businesses, big and small, to costly litigation.

"The extent of the impact and cost of this legislation has not been fully considered," Kathy Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, said in a statement obtained by CNN.

Partnership for New York City represents the interests of small businesses in New York City.

"Testimony at the hearing talked about the problems overweight people face sitting in restaurant and theater seats, bikes having a weight limit [and] taxi cabs requiring seat belt extenders. All of these things could be considered discrimination under this bill and require costly modifications to avoid fines and lawsuits," Wylde said.

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