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Home / Business / Walmart U.S. CEO Responds To Furor About Treatment Of Greeters With Disabilities: NPR

Walmart U.S. CEO Responds To Furor About Treatment Of Greeters With Disabilities: NPR



In a memo to store managers, Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Fora said the company is looking for other roles for greeters with disabilities who are due to lose their jobs.
                
                
                    
                    David J. Phillip / AP
                    
                

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David J. Phillip / AP
        
    

In a memo to store managers, Walmart U.S. CEO Greg For said the company is looking for other roles for greeters with disabilities who are due to lose their jobs.

David J. Phillip / AP
            
        

Walmart's U.S. Pat. CEO Greg Foran is counting all store managers that they should make every effort to provide new job options for greeters with disabilities. Many of these front-door workers remain in limbo as the company plans to eliminate its trademark greeter position in about 1,000 stores in coming months.

The letter from the CEO to managers follows widespread outrage from workers, disability rights lawyers and shoppers against Walmart's plan to phase out its "people greeters." NPR reported on Monday that Walmart, the country's largest private employer, is changing requirements for front-door jobs in a way that appears to disproportionately affect workers with disabilities.

Just last week, greeters across the country were told their jobs were going away on April 25 or 26 to be replaced with "customer hosts," more focused on security and helping shoppers. The host job description demands that workers must be able to lift 25 pounds, collect carts and stand for long periods of time, among other things – tasks that can be difficult or even impossible for many current greeters with disabilities.

Walmart has since said it would extend the deadline for greeters with disabilities, but did not specify for how long. Also, has not commented on NPR's lawsuit and complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – filed in four states by five greeters who have disabilities and say they lost their jobs after requirements changed.

" Because not all the disabilities are the same, each case requires a thoughtful solution. For that reason, we are looking into each one on an individual basis with the goal of offering appropriate accommodations that will enable these associates to continue in other roles with their store. "Foran wrote in a letter 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 said.

Walmart's policy is just about the latest wave in strategy that was first announced in 2016. It has already affected about 1,000 stores, though a box current and form greeters who spoke to NPR have no formal document explaining the policy's details and its rollout. (Note: Walmart is one of NPR's financial supporters.)

"On the one hand it's a good sign that [Walmart is] putting out a letter recommitting their desire To be a good workplace for people with disabilities, "said Katie Eyer, professor of anti-discrimination law at Rutgers. "But it doesn't make any commitment that they are guaranteeing that there will be another position available" for greeters affected by the new policy.

In his letter, Foran describes the new customer host positions as requiring skills like "action customer refunds, scanning receipts, and checking shopping carts. " However, the current and former workers are entitled to the NPR the greeter position, usually already includes these tasks.

            
   

   

   

Some of the greeters whose stories garnered nationwide attention have now accepted new positions. Adam Catlin, a long-time greeter in Pennsylvania who has cerebral palsy, will transition to a different position on April 27, according to a Facebook post by his mother on Friday. Walmart said on Thursday that another long-time greeter in North Carolina, Jay Melton, will now work as a self-checkout host.

Confusion and anxiety continues to reign in many other cases. Some greeters have NPR that this policy also affects many elderly workers, who have received as much attention.

Four workers in four other states have NPR on Thursday and Friday that they have received no new offers from Walmart management. In fact, they said they've learned about all the updates – including the deadline extension – from the media.

One greeter and families of three workers described the chaos and anxiety that have consumed their lives following management by greeter jobs are going away. He says the news that his job is going away has been "absolutely heartbreaking."
                
                
                    
                    Courtesy of Vickie Fogarty
                    
                

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Courtesy of Vickie Fogarty
        
    

Nathan årndt, 35, has been a Walmart greeter in Illinois for 18 years. He is the news that his job is going away has been "absolutely heartbreaking."

Courtesy of Vickie Fogarty
            
        

"Absolutely heartbreaking," was how Nathan took it. He has a developmental disorder called Williams Syndrome, which affects his depth perception, among other things. At 35, he's been greeter in Illinois for 18 years.

year's sunny demeanor has changed in the past week, said his mother, Vickie Fogarty. In recent months, she said, his hours have been cut – another common complaint NPR has heard from other greeters with disabilities. Now is working just one day a week, and wondering what he did to lose his job. He just said "just everything" to him.

Fogarty said the past week has been "like trying to juggle chainsaws." She and year are hoping for a meeting to discuss his options next week.

"Part of me is afraid that … they are going through the motions to appease people now, but eventually, down the road the results will be the same," Fogarty said. "I don't want to get Nathan's hopes up and in six months, they're going to do this all over again." "I just don't understand why they just want to get rid of greeters," said Simon Cantrell, 21, who works as a "people greeter" at a Walmart in South Carolina.
                
                
                    
                    Courtesy of Scott Cantrell
                    
                

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Courtesy of Scott Cantrell
        
    

In South Carolina, the family of Simon Cantrell has not received any new updates about his job. Cantrell, 21, is autistic and his father has been told he would not qualify for the customer-host position, but they are hopeful for another job. rid of greeters, "Cantrell said. "I know people are very proud of me and how hard I work, but I just don't understand why they just get rid of greeters."

The Americans With Disabilities Act does not include companies from changing their job descriptions and requirements as they see fit for their business goals. But the law does not require companies to find "reasonable accommodations" for workers with disabilities facing changing job demands, as long as the worker can perform the "essential functions" of the job.

And so Walmart has an obligation during the ADA to transfer its existing greeters with disabilities to other jobs for which they are qualified, if not able to perform the job with the new requirements, said University of Michigan law professor Samuel Bagenstos.

"I read [the CEO letter] very much as a soup," Bagenstos said, "both to public relations and the law."


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