Walmart to make 'every effort' to keep disabled greeters

Clarksville Now Clarksville Police Department

Clarksville Now Clarksville Police Department

On Thursday, Walmart US CEO Greg Foran wrote a memo to all store managers in the country.

It came on the heels of over 18,481 people signing a petition that showed support for Melton keeping his job, after news broke that Walmart was eliminating greeter roles - a move many believe unfairly targets disabled workers, specifically those who may use a wheelchair. It plans to offer jobs to other greeters with physical disabilities in the coming weeks.

People with disabilities who have traditionally filled the greeter job at many stores accused Walmart of acting heartlessly. Greeters with cerebral palsy, spina bifida and other physical disabilities feared they'd be out of work, sparking protests from customers and others. Amid the uproar, the company has extended the deadline indefinitely for greeters with disabilities.

Walmart has already started making job offers to the greeters. And because not all disabilities are the same, each case requires a thoughtful solution. He said Walmart was looking into each employee's case on a case-by-case basis "with the goal of offering appropriate accommodations that will enable these associates to continue in other roles with their store".

Part of that memo says, "if any associate in this unique situation wants to continue working at Walmart, we should make every effort to make that happen".

Greeters at affected locations were given 60 days notice in their current jobs. In 2016, Walmart brought back greeters, but changed the title and expanded the requirements for the job.

Some of the greeters, whose stories garnered nationwide attention, have now accepted new positions.

In North Carolina, Melton is "happier than a pig in a mud puddle", said his father, Jim Melton.

The decision has drawn criticism from some who believe numerous company's disabled and elderly blue-vested greeters will be left out of work.

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Mitchell Hartzell, 31, a full-time Walmart greeter in Hazel Green, Alabama, said his manager told him "they pretty much didn't have anything in that store for me to do" after his job winds down in April. "His job is his driving force in life".

Walmart did not disclose how many disabled greeters could lose their jobs. He says the news that his job is going away has been "absolutely heartbreaking".

Adam has been a greeter for ten years.

Joerndt's sunny demeanor has changed in the past week, said his mother, Vickie Fogarty. The extra time, he said, will give Walmart a chance to explore how to accommodate such employees.

But some workers say they have been tacitly discouraged from applying for other jobs. She and Joerndt are hoping for a meeting to discuss his options next week.

"I'm going to be sitting by the self-checkout, promoting the self-checkout and saying hi to the people", Adam said.

In South Carolina, the family of Simon Cantrell has not received any new updates about his job.

Thankfully, Walmart listened to an impassioned community and did "the right thing by letting Jay stay", according to one commenter on the Facebook post. "That's all I'm going to do?"

Replacing them will be "hosts", who will have more responsibility than just greeting shoppers at the door. Federal law requires that employers provide "reasonable" accommodations to workers with disabilities. "I am very sad and disappointed", she said.

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