Getting a chop from a blind barber is a nightmare scenario for virtually all men who get haircuts. Going to the barbershop and having a barber take to your head with sharp objects seems like fodder for a comedy, but it was a very real possibility for those in Norton, MA looking to get fresh. However, a legally blind barber has the last laugh, as he won a recent wrongful termination lawsuit.
Joel Nixon thought he had a secure job as he worked at Tony’s Barber Shop in Norton. He worked at the shop for owner Tony Morales for a year. However, Nixon, 29, found himself unemployed in 2012, after tripping over a customer’s legs, then over a chair later in the same day. These faux pas can be attributed to Nixon’s diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa, a condition that affects the peripheral vision and makes seeing at night difficult. According to the Boston Herald, Nixon has been declared legally blind by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, and there is a strong chance that he will lose his sight permanently in the future, due to the disorder.
After his firing, life was rough for Nixon and his family. The Herald details:
Things fell apart for Nixon after that, he said. He couldn’t find a job nearby, and his wife had a high-risk pregnancy that made it difficult for him to work far from home. He was unemployed for three years, his condo went into foreclosure, and he was forced to apply for food stamps and went to charities for Christmas gifts, he said.
Nixon took his case to court and won. He was awarded $100,000 ($75,000 in lost wages and $25,000 for emotional distress) by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination on Friday, which sided with him in the notion that he was wrongly terminated. Morales fired back, claiming that Nixon was not a licensed barber and just wasn’t meeting the standard he sets for barbers in his shop. An appeal of the decision is expected.
“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,” said an emotional Nixon. “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.”
Nixon is still cutting hair, known to his patrons as “The Blind Barber.”