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Commission awards blind barber $100,000 for wrongful termination

Category: Discrimination, Wrongful Termination

Whether employees live in California or another state, they are protected from workplace discrimination based on a disability. On Nov. 6, the owner of Tony’s Barber Shop in Massachusetts was ordered to pay a total of $100,000 in lost wages and emotional distress for firing a legally blind barber.

According to the 29-year-old blind barber, the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind has declared him legally blind. He has retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that hinders his vision at night and impedes peripheral vision. The man told the Boston Herald that he could lose his vision completely someday, but he wants to secure a house with a backyard and afford a trip to Disneyland for himself and his son before that happens.

The barber says that his condition has not impacted his work, and he worked at the shop for a year before the owner found out that he was legally blind and fired him in 2012. After the termination, he says, it was hard for him to find another job. During that time, his condo was foreclosed upon, and he had to seek help from charities for family Christmas gifts and apply for food stamps.

However, the barber shop owner disputes the man’s account of what happened. He claims that he only fired the man after he stumbled over a customer’s legs and a waiting room chair in the same day. With plans to appeal, the owner also claims that the man is not licensed and wasn’t carrying his share of the load in the workplace.

An employee who is the victim of disability discrimination has the right to seek resolution and compensation for the unlawful action. An attorney can often assist in preparing a claim and filing it with the appropriate state or federal agency.

Source: FOX News, “‘Blind Barber’ awarded $100k for wrongful termination,” Nov. 8, 2015

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