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National Public Radio reports on Walmart’s decision to change the job description for its greeter position, “replacing them with ‘customer hosts,’ who have expanded responsibilities, such as taking care of security or assisting shoppers.” The problem is that this change of responsibilities “appears to disproportionately affect workers with disabilities … the job of greeter has been a particularly attractive fit, as it isn't physically strenuous and is easy to learn.”

Greeters with disabilities in five states say they expect to lose their jobs: “To qualify for these new host positions, workers must be able to lift 25 pounds, clean up spills, collect carts and stand for long periods of time, among other things — tasks that can be impossible for people with disabilities. Workers say they've been told they must be able to climb a ladder to qualify for some of the other jobs at the store.”

NPR notes that in a number of these cases, the decision has created an outcry: “The most widely shared story has been in Pennsylvania, where Adam Catlin, a Walmart greeter with cerebral palsy, is facing job loss after 10 years. Almost 4,000 comments have poured onto his mother's Facebook post, which asks people to call Walmart's corporate line to advocate for Catlin's employment.”

There may also be some legal implications for Walmart. “NPR has also learned of several complaints against Walmart with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as a lawsuit — all by greeters with disabilities who previously lost their jobs after demands changed.”

Walmart has defended its position. “"We recognize that our associates with physical disabilities face a unique situation,” the company says. “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 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.”
KC's View:
Give Walmart credit. It always has been a big employer of people with disabilities. But this is an unforced error, in my view. Sure, it has to the get the most out of its employees, but the money it is spending on these disabled greeters - which cannot be that much in the scheme of things - is an investment that puts a human and compassionate face on the company.

Let’s be clear. The vast majority of Walmart shoppers have no idea who Doug McMillon or Marc Lore are. But the shoppers at the Walmart storer where Adam Catlin works know who he is … and that ought to be worth a lot.