Walmart to allow more time for greeters with disabilities to adjust to new demands
Walmart’s decision to change the job requirements for its greeters has caused a national controversy as some believe it targets people with disabilities.
But some disabled worker advocates say they haven’t seen any issues locally yet.
Lisa Razza, spokeswoman with ACHIEVA, which works with people with disabilities in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, said they are checking to see if anyone in Western Pennsylvania has been affected by the changes. Historically, Walmart has been an accommodating partner, she said.
“We respect the businesses rights to make changes to a job requirement,” Razza said. “One thing that’s important is to make sure they are requirements that are really needed.”
The issue arose when an NPR report came out this week with comments from Walmart greeters with disabilities who fear they will lose their jobs in April when the company starts phasing out greeters and replacing them with customer hosts that have more expanded responsibilities. The change is part of a larger plan Walmart first introduced in 2016.
NPR reported one of the most widely shared stories has been a greeter from a store in central Pennsylvania. Adam Catlin, a Walmart greeter with cerebral palsy, is facing job loss after 10 years. His situation drew attention after his mother’s Facebook post, which asks people to call Walmart’s corporate line to advocate for Catlin’s employment.
“You all know that Adam loves his job sooo much and does it with his whole heart,” his mother, Holly Catlin, wrote, adding that losing his job would devastate her son. “I am extremely disappointed in this. Not just the way it was handled but, just the fact that it happened. I know corporate decisions are corporate decisions, if that’s where this originated from, but, does anyone ever make any decisions anymore by putting any heart or care into it? I seriously wonder this.”
The Americans With Disabilities Act does not stop companies from changing their job descriptions and expected job functions as they see fit for their business goals.
In a statement to the Tribune-Review, Walmart spokesman Justin Rushing said they will allow more time for greeters with disabilities to find other jobs than the originally planned 60-day transition period.
“We recognize that our associates with physical disabilities face a unique situation,” the statement said. “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.”
A list of affected stores was not provided by Walmart, but NPR reported about 1,000 stores would see the change.
Razza said ACHIEVA helps nearly 340 people with disabilities who are seeking employment. She said they’ve helped 15 people become employed at Walmart in a variety of positions including stocking, receiving, cashier, maintenance, deli, and parking lot attendant. She said only one was employed as a greeter in 2015, but his disability led him to end his employment with them, and not any change in the job description.
“(We) work with business to really show them how we can make a job work for somebody even if they might initially think there are limitations,” she said.
Julie DeSeyn, vice president for community impact with United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, said there are many opportunities for people with disabilities outside of Walmart. The United Way places people with disabilities in jobs through their 21 and Able program. They’ve helped about 400 people find jobs since 2013.
DeSeyn said Walmart isn’t a partner with them, but they work with several local companies including Giant Eagle.
“We’ve been really just overwhelmed by the number of companies willing and interested in going down this road, both so they can employ more people with disabilities or do a better job engaging with people with disabilities on their workforces,” she said.
DeSeyn said if anyone locally finds themselves without a job related to Walmart’s changes or otherwise, they can reach out to the United Way’s 2-1-1 line for assistance which connects people with resources for job training, utility assistance and other health and human services.
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .