Longtime angry clients in Pennsylvania with cerebral palsy could lose their jobs

Almost everyone who buys at the Walmart in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, knows the Adam Catlin store, which greets customers with a big smile and a warm hello for more than 10 years.

But Catlin, who suffers from cerebral palsy, fears he will not be at work after the store manager tells him that his job description is changing – and now includes tasks for which he was physically incapable.

"It was a shock," Catlin said Wednesday, 30, during a phone interview. "I never saw it coming."

Catlin's family either. They say Walmart is acting heartless towards one of its most dedicated workers. Walmart says he hopes to keep it at the store.

Catlin has played the traditional role of "welcoming people" since graduating high school. But in many Walmart stores, work has become that of guest host and these workers are now responsible for return assistance, checking receipts to prevent shoplifting and theft. cleanliness of the store.

Catlin, who uses a walker and is legally blind, told store management that, by the end of April, he should be able to lift at least 11 kilos, stand for long periods of time, write reports, and read received in order to stay as a customer host.

"I could not," he said.

Catlin's situation became public after her mother, Holly Catlin, talked about it on Facebook Monday night. His message has been shared thousands of times, with long-standing customers and foreigners expressing outrage at the retailer. Catlin is so associated with the Walmart Selinsgrove that he cut the ribbon during the store's grand reopening and that he's often recognized when he's on the go.

"Everyone likes it, it lights up the whole place like a full moon," said Ellen English, a 51-year-old customer of Walmart. "They can not do that to Adam."

Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg called Catlin "a valuable member of the team and what makes our Selinsgrove store special". In a statement released Wednesday, he said Walmart "is looking for a solution that keeps him in the store".

Two other disabled visitors from Walmart, one in Illinois, the other in South Carolina, are currently grappling with the same problem, said Cheryl Bates-Harris, senior human rights advocate. disabled at the National Disability Rights Network. A worker previously reported having lost his job as a supervisor due to a disability.

Under federal law, employers must provide reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities. The law requires an "interactive process" between the employer and the employee to evaluate requests for accommodation. The Catlin family said that a Walmart store manager, a human relations manager and a company headquarters official called Wednesday afternoon to discuss the situation.

"This work is his main concern in his life, his driving force, his heart," said his sister Amber Piermattei. "This gives him all the confidence in him to get up and hit that clock like everyone else and to be part of the community … He is dedicated to this place, and so that they can sweep it away because he has different abilities, I think, is a shame. "

Catlin is not the first Walmart host with a disability to be impacted by the move to the client host. In 2016, Danny Ockenhouse, who uses a wheelchair, said he lost his role as a goaltender at a Walmart in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, unable to cope with the new physical demands of the job.

"I just want to get back to work and I want to be appreciated," said Ockenhouse, who had been working for 21 years at the time. He ended up getting severance pay.

Meanwhile, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed numerous lawsuits against Walmart during its treatment of workers with disabilities. Walmart said that he did not tolerate discrimination.

Piermattei said that his brother loves his job so much that he does not like taking a paid vacation – at Catlin, it is deceiving the company. After a heart attack a few years ago, Catlin told the doctor that he needed to be released from the hospital in the morning so he could get to work.

"What I want is to be the caretaker and be able to sit down and do my job," Catlin said. "I hope everything works."

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