NEW YORK (PIX11) — Obesity is one of the nation’s major health problems impacting millions of Americans each year. It is a health issue, and while serious, it is one for which there is treatment.
But another ailment facing people who are obese, for which there is no treatment, is discrimination. In New York City, an effort is underway to change that. A bill has been introduced in the City Council that would protect people who are overweight from being discriminated against in employment and housing.
Supporters of the bill staged a rally in front of City Hall. They chanted, “What do we want, size freedom! When do we want it, now!”
The sound lifted over City Hall by advocates for a size freedom bill that would protect the rights of people who are overweight and who are denied opportunities because of their weight.
Tigress Osborne of the National Association to Advance Fat People, was applauded as she declared, “for fat people — and we are fat, no apologies — size and freedom mean we need things to fit us, we need change that fits us, space that fits us, we need jobs that are fair to us; pay us equally for our good work.”
The rally was in support of a bill introduced by Councilman Shaun Abreu, who told the crowd, “let’s sign this bill to make the promise of equality a reality for New Yorkers of all sizes and all backgrounds.”
Advocates of the bill claim there has been no protection under current discriminatory laws to protect obese people against discrimination.
Eno Awotowe, of the Retail Action Project, said, “size freedom hurts our workers and that’s not right. Our workers are refused jobs and promotions and that’s not right.”
Following the rally, a City Council committee held a hearing on the proposed bill and listened to a litany of tales about size discrimination.
Abreu related, “we heard people testify how they have to buy two tickets to get on a plane because of their size. We heard people testifying when they get into a car, an Uber, their seat belt is not big enough to keep them safe.”
Abreu told PIX11 News his bill would be another advance on civil rights.
“The bill would change workplace culture,” he said. “It would make an employer think twice before deciding to impose any action. If they’re thinking weight is not acceptable for who they are, then they have to think twice that they can’t do that anymore.”
The councilman claims his bill has the support of 33 members of the 51-member chamber and he’s hopeful the speaker will bring it to a vote as soon as possible.