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Protections Against Height and Weight Discrimination

Christine McHugh, Esq., ARM
February 2024
Take steps to prevent height and weight discrimination on campus.

State and local laws often expand beyond federally protected categories and characteristics. Marital status, political affiliation, and genetic information are commonly included protected characteristics. The most recent trend is providing protections based on height or weight.

While Michigan is the only state banning height and weight discrimination, a few states have legislation pending. These protections are more common in local laws, including cities such as San Francisco and New York City, which enacted a law banning discrimination based on height and weight in 2000 and 2024, respectively. Each law provides its own narrow exclusions. Consult qualified legal counsel for questions about whether or how these protections apply to your K-12 school, college, or university.

If your locality prohibits height and weight discrimination, examine the impact on the employment arena.

  • Update all discrimination policies and hiring practices to reflect height and weight as protected categories.
  • Review handbooks that mention protected categories to ensure the lists include height and weight.
  • Confirm job descriptions don’t include requirements related to height or weight.
  • Update all trainings — online and in-person curricula — that address discrimination.

Spead the word if your region adds these protections. Include in your outreach:

  • Train all staff who are involved in employment-related decisions, including human resources staff, hiring managers, department heads, and other people managers.
  • Communicate to employees that height and weight protections apply to actual and perceived characteristics, and that they cover job applicants and current employees.
  • Even if your state or locality doesn’t include height and weight as protected characteristics, consider whether you wish to add these traits to your anti-discrimination policy.
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