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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.


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