David J. Phillip / AP
Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart in the United States, told all store managers that they should spare no effort to offer new job opportunities to people with disabilities. Many of these home-based workers remain in limbo as the company plans to eliminate its main brand position in around 1,000 stores in the coming months.
The CEO's letter to the leaders follows widespread outrage from workers, disability advocates, and shoppers against Walmart's plan to phase out its "people of life." NPR reported Monday that Walmart, the country's largest private employer, is changing the requirements for casual jobs in a way that seems to disproportionately affect disabled workers.
Just last week, the country's greeters learned that their jobs were disappearing on April 25 or 26 and would be replaced by "guest hosts", more focused on security and helping buyers. In particular, the job description of the host requires that workers be able to lift 25 kg (25 kg), pick up trolleys and stand for long periods of time, tasks that can be difficult or impossible to many users currently disabled.
Since then, Walmart has announced its intention to extend the deadline for people with disabilities, but without specifying for how long. Walmart also made no comments to NPR about a lawsuit and complaints filed with the Commission for Equal Employment – filed in four states by five greeters., who have a disability and say that they have lost their jobs after the requirements have changed.
"Because not all disabilities are the same, each case requires a thoughtful solution, which is why we look at each case individually with the goal of proposing appropriate accommodations that will allow these associates to continue to occupy themselves." other roles in their store., "Foran wrote in a letter to store managers late Thursday.
"Let's be clear: if a partner in this unique situation wants to continue working at Walmart, we need to make every effort to make that happen," Foran said.
Walmart's policy is just the latest wave of a strategy announced for the first time in 2016. It has already reached approximately 1,000 stores, though a dozen current and former receptionists who spoke to NPR have not saw official document explaining the details of the policy and its deployment. (Note: Walmart is one of NPR's financial backers.)
"On the one hand it's a good sign that [Walmart is] Katie Eyer, a professor of anti-discrimination law at Rutgers, told Katie Eyer, a professor of anti-discrimination law writing a letter in which she reaffirms she wants to become a good place to work for people with disabilities. post available "for the greeters concerned by the new policy.
In his letter, Foran describes the new guest positions at the client as requiring skills such as "processing customer refunds, scanning receipts and checking baskets." However, current and former workers have told NPR that the host position usually already includes these tasks.
Some of the greeters, whose stories have attracted the attention of the country, have now accepted new positions. Adam Catlin, a long-time Pennsylvania greeter with cerebral palsy, will move to another position on April 27, according to an article posted on Facebook by his mother on Friday. Walmart announced Thursday that another long-time North Carolina employee, Jay Melton, will now operate as an auto-pay host.
Confusion and anxiety continue to prevail in many other cases. Some greeters told NPR that this policy also affected many older workers, who had not received so much attention.
Four workers in four other states told NPR Thursday and Friday that they had not received any new offers from Walmart management. In fact, they stated that they had read all the updates – including the extension of the deadline – of the media.
A caretaker and families of three workers described the chaos and anxiety that consumed their lives following management's announcement of the loss of their jobs.
Courtesy of Vickie Fogarty
"Absolutely heartbreaking," commented Nathan Joerndt. He suffers from a developmental disorder called Williams syndrome, which affects his perception of depth in particular. At the age of 35, he is a Greeter in Illinois for 18 years.
Joerndt's sunny behavior changed last week, said his mother, Vickie Fogarty. In recent months, she added, her hours of work have been reduced – another frequent complaint that NPR has heard from other disabled greeters. Now Joerndt only works one day a week and wonders what he has done wrong to lose his job. He said that work meant "everything" for him.
Fogarty said the past week had been "a bit like trying to juggle chainsaws". She and Joerndt are hoping for a meeting to discuss his options next week.
"Part of me is scared … to soothe people now, but the results will eventually be the same," Fogarty said. "I do not want Nathan's hopes to come true and in six months they will start again."
In South Carolina, Simon Cantrell's family has not received any new information regarding his work. Cantrell, 21, is autistic and his father stated that he had been told that he would not qualify for the guest-host position, but they are hoping for another job.
"I felt a little disappointed with how they are going to get rid of greeters," Cantrell said. "I know that people are very proud of me and the hardness of their work, but I just do not understand why they just want to get rid of greeters."
The Americans Without Disabilities Act does not prevent companies from changing their job descriptions and requirements as they see fit to achieve their goals. However, the law requires companies to find "reasonable accommodation" for disabled workers facing changing requirements, as long as they can perform the "core functions" of the job.
Thus, Walmart has the obligation, under the ADA, to transfer its existing disabled assistants to other jobs for which they are qualified, if they are not able to fill the requirements, said University of Michigan law professor Samuel Bagenstos.
"I have read [the CEO letter] Bagenstos said: "as much for public relations as for law," said Bagenstos.