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Local Walmart greeter with cerebral palsy interrupted in policy change



by Keaton Thomas, KATU News

John Combs and his sister Rachel Wasser. Combs, which have cerebral palsy, are set up from their job as a greeter at Walmart. (KATU Photo)

As you enter Walmart near Mill Plain and South East 192nd Avenue, you will probably be met by John Combs.

"Welcome to Walmart," he will say.

Last week, Combs learned that he was laid off. His position, a People Greeter, was reclassified. Comb's family says his last day will be April 25th.

Combs has been working at Walmart for the past two and a half years. His family says the job has been perfect for Combs, which has brain paresis and is tied to a wheelchair.

"We were destroyed – just one blow to take," said Rachel Wasser, her sister and legal guardians.

Combs says he likes his job. He doesn't want a new one.

"Been as part of my family," he said.

"This is all for him. This is his livelihood, that is his means of rent," said Wasser. "It's positive for him. It gives him purpose. He's a very targeted guy."

Family says Combs has improved his linguistic and social skills since joining Walmart. He has more confidence.

Wasser says they hope Walmart will find a way to keep Combs on the staff. She says it would be difficult for them to find him another job.

"Have so many developed relationships where it gives him a sense of community. Otherwise, when people in John's position are isolated, [it] leads to a not happy life," said Wasser.

When asked what Combs would tell Walmart CEO, he said, "I do a good job."

A Walmart spokesman told KATU News they reclassify greeter role as a customer host, which includes more pay and liability. Walmart says that customers welcome customers as they enter and keep the front page clean, safe and secure.

"We recognize that this is a unique situation and it will take time to explore possible solutions," said Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesperson. "When we attach the greeter roll out of this store during a 60-day period, our store management and local human resource groups will be in regular contact with those employees as they examine all available options to him."

Wasser says they have asked Walmart for more information, but have not heard from them from Monday.


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