Can I be demoted or fired if I lost my glasses so that I couldn’t do my job for the day?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I be demoted or fired if I lost my glasses so that I couldn’t do my job for the day?

I have a visual impairment astigmatism that requires use of corrective lenses and those lenses got broken, so I was unable to do my job to the best of my ability. I was unable to see until getting them fixed next business day. My employer is aware that I wear corrective lenses to see and stated that that was not an excuse that she would accept that I could not see to do everything she wanted me to do. She is basically telling me that I could get reprimanded or my job title could be terminated because of this. Is this legal?

Asked on November 16, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You are not, in the situation you describe, being reprimanded, etc. due to a medical condition or disability, which would be illegal, but due to your actions or behavior: not being able to do your job. Employers may take action against employees who do not do their jobs, even if in part due to a medical condition--especially if the reason the employee did not due his/her job is under the employee's control (e.g. you could, and probably should, have one or more back-up pairs of glasses, so that losing a pair would not put you in that situation). It the failure to do your job, not having the impairment per se, that can get you disciplined, etc.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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