If a bloke whose eyesight wasn’t up to scratch was going at your hair with scissors, you might be rightly concerned, but a court took a different view and just awarded a legally blind barber a massive $100,000 (£66,000) payout for wrongful termination.
According to the Boston Herald, Joel Nixon had been working for Tony’s Barber Shop for over a year, after honing his skills cutting his siblings’ hair. However, when his boss discovered Joel’s condition, he was sacked.
The 29-year-old has retinitis pigmentosa – a condition which affects his peripheral vision and makes it difficult for him to see at night. He’s been declared legally blind by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, and Nixon said there’s even a possibility he may lose his sight forever.
Speaking to the Boston Herald, he said:
I could wake up someday and be completely blind, but my goal is to have a nice home with a nice backyard for my son. I’ve never been to Disneyland, and I want to take him. I want to take him before I lose my vision. I’m trying to do the best I can.
He insists his condition has never affected his work, but barber shop owner Tony Morales fired him three years ago after Nixon tripped over a customer’s legs and then tripped over a chair in the waiting room later in the same day.
Morales has since claimed that Nixon wasn’t actually a licensed barber and also wasn’t pulling his weight in the store, something which Nixon called “a bunch of lies”.
Nixon spoke of hard times after his firing, struggling to find employment and relying on food stamps for him and his family for a time. In the end, he was awarded $75,000 for lost wages and another $25,000 for emotional distress.
Nixon is reportedly still cutting hair for loyal (and brave) customers, who call him the ‘Blind Barber’.
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