Walmart Exploring ‘Potential Accommodations’ For Greeters With Special Needs
Walmart is apparently softening its stance after the company modified expectations for some positions leaving workers with disabilities worried that they would soon be out of a job.
The nation’s largest private employer is abandoning the role of “people greeter” at 1,000 of its stores in favor of a new position called “customer host” that carries additional responsibilities including checking receipts, helping with returns and keeping the entrances safe and clean.
The new role also has more physical requirements, disqualifying many people with disabilities who have worked as greeters.
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Greeters at affected locations were given 60 days notice in their current jobs. They can apply for other jobs at Walmart or will be offered severance pay, the company said.
Reports from across the country in the last week suggest that many employees with disabilities expect to be out of work once the 60-day period expires, prompting backlash against the retail giant. Online petitions with names like “Keep Jay Melton at Walmart” and “Walmart greeter with cerebral palsy may lose his job” have sprung up garnering tens of thousands of signatures.
Now, Walmart appears to be reevaluating.
“We recognize that our associates with physical disabilities face a unique situation,” Walmart said in a statement. “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. This allows these associates to continue their employment at the store as valued members of the team while we seek an acceptable, customized solution for all of those involved.”
Greg Foran, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., doubled down on the company’s new stance in a letter sent to store managers late Thursday.
“Let me be clear: If any associate in this unique situation wants to continue working at Walmart, we should make every effort to make that happen,” Foran wrote.
Many affected greeters, including those with physical disabilities, have already been offered other positions, the company said.
Walmart said that it started to move away from having greeters more than two years ago. During a pilot phase of the initiative, the company said that over 80 percent of greeters found new positions with the retailer, many of which were promotions.
(Updated: March 1, 2019 at 12:34 p.m. ET)