Anyone who’s been inside a Walmart during their lifetime has likely been greeted by a friendly “Welcome to Walmart!” by a store employee as soon as they stepped foot in the door. Greeters have been a staple to the stores for years, becoming so common that busy shoppers might not even notice them. It may seem like a simple job, but for many Americans, it’s the perfect fit. Employees with disabilities are often given this role as it doesn’t require much physical effort and can be done from a wheelchair if necessary. However, the store has decided to do away with this role in nearly 1,000 of their stores, according to NPR.
John Combs of Vancouver, Washington is one of the many people who takes pride in being a Walmart greeter. Combs has cerebral palsy and has difficulty speaking. He gets around with the assistance of a motorized chair. Four days a week he wakes up at 6 a.m. in order to make it to work. He recently celebrated two years at the position. He was devastated to hear that Walmart has decided to eliminate greeters, forcing him out of a job by the end of April. “I don’t want to lose this job, this is a real job I have,” he said.
Walmart will be replacing the greeter position with a new role called “customer hosts.” These employees will greet customers at the door and then assist them with finding the products they are looking for within the store. They will also help with security efforts. In order to qualify for this position, the candidate must be able to lift 25 pounds, clean up messes that might occur, collect carts, and be on their feet for a long period of time. For many of those with disabilities, this would be highly challenging, if not impossible. Employees that are physically unable to fulfill these requirements are now worried about how they will find work.
NPR has found that Walmart is changing the job requirements for front-door greeters in a way that appears to disproportionately affect workers with disabilities.https://t.co/PkDd5VYk9X— NPR (@NPR) February 25, 2019
The store acknowledges the concerns that have arisen on behalf of these employees. As a result, they have decided to allow employees with disabilities an extended amount of time to find other work, they said in a public statement.
“We recognize that our associates with physical disabilities face a unique situation. With that in mind, we will be extending the current 60-day greeter transition period for associates with disabilities while we explore the circumstances and potential accommodations, for each individual, that can be made within each store.”
Even with this extended amount of time, employees forced out work due to physical limitations will be facing a major life change due to this position being eliminated.