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Walmart's Push to Nix Greeters Poses 'Unique Situation'

Disabled workers say they will be hurt most by new job requirements for 'customer hosts'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2019 8:31 AM CST
Updated Mar 2, 2019 7:30 AM CST
In this Dec. 14, 2018, photo, Adam Catlin gets out of a car before starting his shift at a Walmart in Selinsgrove, Pa.   (Holly Catlin via AP)
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(Newser) – "It's just a systematic way of getting rid of all the disabled people." That's how the dad of a former Walmart worker feels about the retailer's recent decision to get rid of its greeters at 1,000 of its stores by the end of April. In their place, per NPR, will be "customer hosts," roles that require a new set of qualifications, such as being able to lift 25 pounds, collect carts, and even climb ladders—requirements that often can't be met by people with disabilities. The legalities are complex, as the Americans With Disabilities Act allows companies to change job descriptions based on its needs, though they also need to try to accommodate disabled workers. An employment lawyer notes individual businesses can personalize how they handle things, include finding other roles within the company for an affected employee, modifying any new changes for that worker, or even just grandfathering the worker in.

Petitions have gone out to help some of the affected greeters, including for Adam Catlin, a 30-year-old Pennsylvania man with cerebral palsy whose mom wrote about the matter in a Facebook post last week. "Due to his disability, he has always had the option to stay home and collect SSI," Holly Catlin noted. "However, Adam has such a strong desire to work and support himself." She tells the AP that management at the Selinsgrove store where Adam works offered him other roles, including cashier and photo lab assistant, but he can't perform the job duties for either. "We didn't really get anywhere," Holly Catlin says. "I'm not backing down. He must still have a job." A Walmart rep has acknowledged the "unique situation" and notes that workers in this position will have beyond the April 25 transition period to figure out, along with their individual stores, what to do. (Read more Walmart stories.)

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