Mar 18, 2022 | News Story

RWDSU Seeks an End to Weight-Based Discrimination in NYS

Unlike other forms of discrimination, in most places in the U.S. there’s no clear law against weight-based discrimination. But here in New York, the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union is working with lawmakers to pass a bill that would make weight and height protected categories under the state’s civil rights laws.

Weight bias is widespread in retail, says Eno Awotoye, an organizer for the RWDSU’s Retail Action Project, which mobilizes nonunion workers to try to improve the sector. Higher-end brands tell job seekers to provide a photo with their résumé and that heavier workers get passed over for promotions or stuck in the back, stocking shelves for less pay than sales reps. Some get told after gaining weight that they no longer “fit the image” the company wants, and many retailers insist that sales staff wear their own brand on the job while refusing to provide apparel that can fit larger employees.

To get the New York bill passed, the RWDSU plans to mobilize workers who’ve experienced or witnessed such discrimination to lobby lawmakers and testify at hearings. Finding retail staff ready to publicly share their discrimination stories has been tough, says Awotoye, but that’s an obstacle that can and must be overcome to get the bill enacted. Read more in Bloomberg!