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Illegal discrimination based on height and weight, says New Jersey

New Jersey is taking an unprecedented step in trying to outlaw discrimination in all its forms. While federal law prohibits discrimination based on gender, race, religion, ethnic/national origin, and sexual orientation, New Jersey goes even further by prohibiting discrimination based on height and weight. Garden State hopes to lead by example by introducing a new bill in the Senate that will enable legal action against discrimination based on height and weight. So far, in the United States, only Michigan law prohibits discrimination based on weight.

Studies have shown that height and weight discrimination can have a lasting psychological impact on victims.

Discrimination of height and weight

Studies have repeatedly shown that perceived discrimination based on weight can lead to low self-esteem and cause psychological distress. Psychologist Rebecca Puhl, PhD and professor at the University of Connecticut once told the American Psychological Association that “weight stigma harms emotional and physical health, and it diminishes quality of life.” Additionally, research suggests that perceived weight discrimination is just as impactful as actual, intentional weight discrimination.

Height is a social issue that often affects everything from annual income to romantic relationships. In 2020, Chinese researchers found that a person of above average height had better annual earnings. Short people are prone to feelings of paranoia and inferiority. Daniel Freeman of the University of Oxford in Britain, who conducted a study on height discrimination, said that “being tall is associated with greater career and relationship success. Height is taken to convey authority and we feel taller when we feel more powerful. In his experience, when people were practically reduced in size, they felt inferior and made them overly suspicious.

The New Jersey Anti-Discrimination Bill

The new bill was proposed by Andrew Zwicker, a state senator representing Middlesex County, who is recommending an amendment to the New Jersey Anti-Discrimination Act (NJLAD) so that it can also count height discrimination. and weight in its characteristics. In Michigan, weight discrimination has been banned since 1976. New York State has repeatedly considered banning weight discrimination since 2018, but no law has been passed to date. .

Discrimination based on height and weight does not affect job opportunities, but also leads to social exclusion and substandard health care. New Jersey lawmakers want to ban discrimination in all its forms because research clearly points to the negative impact of discrimination on physical and psychological health. In an interview, Zwicker said, “Discrimination can take many different forms, sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit. We focus so much on discrimination based on physical disability, as we rightly should, but there is a more subtle type of discrimination based on body size and shape. He hopes to ban both explicit and implicit discrimination to build a better and inclusive society.

If the bill is passed, height and weight discrimination in employment, education, housing, public housing and the civil service will be illegal and carry heavy penalties. The bill is currently pending at the Senate Labor Committee, and Zwicker said he hopes his colleagues from all parties will support the cause. He strongly believes that legal action against discrimination is necessary to reinforce the values ​​of inclusiveness, diversity and equality.

In addition, he also said he hopes “it’s not a partisan issue or something that’s seen – and I think totally inaccurately – as part of this ‘awakening’ or this ‘cultural battle’. “which we are conducting at the moment”.

The majority like to be evaluated on the work they do and would prefer that their appearance not affect their evaluation. To prohibit discrimination is to prepare the ground for people to reap rewards based on their merits rather than the prejudices and prejudices of society.