Walmart Under Fire for Eliminating ‘People Greeter’ Position
Walmart's President and CEO has issued a memo to all employees, responding to the backlash over eliminating a position regularly held by those with disabilities.
Last week, Walmart announced that the iconic 'People Greeter' position, a job started by company founder Sam Walton, would be replaced by the new position of 'Customer Host' in April, with an emphasis on security and customer assistance. As part of the new job, Customer Hosts would be required to lift at least 25 pounds, stand for long periods of time, and collect shopping carts, tasks that are near to impossible for the elderly and disabled who have been serving as People Greeters. Lawsuits and complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have already been filed in four states.
As reported by NPR, Walmart President & CEO Greg Foran issued a memo on Thursday, saying the company would be taking all opportunities to help displaced associates with disabilities,
You don’t have to look far to see how competitive the retail industry is. In this environment, every win we get is hard fought, requiring intense focus and precision. As I look to the future, I don’t see any signs suggesting this will change. If anything, the challenges will only become greater. I know we are up for it.
With that in mind, we’ve invested in training, technology, and systems in our stores, across our supply chain, and in our offices. Each of these supports our associates and better serves our customers.
Some of the changes, of course, involve tougher choices related to the roles our associates play and how we staff our stores. I never make these lightly.
Recently we made some decisions along these lines as we changed the position of People Greeter to Customer Host, a role that requires a different skill set, such as handling customer refunds, scanning receipts, and checking shopping carts.
As can sometimes happen, this change has created some conversation both externally and internally, specifically where associates with disabilities are concerned.
Where this is the case, we are taking some specific steps to support them.
First, as you may or may not know, whenever a position is changed, we provide all associates with a 60-day window to apply for other roles within the store. During this period, those associates continue to work in their current role.
In terms of the associates with disabilities who are transitioning out of the People Greeter position, we recognize these people face a unique situation. And because not all disabilities are the same, each case requires a thoughtful solution.
For that reason, we are looking into each one on an individual basis with the goal of offering appropriate accommodations that will enable these associates to continue in other roles with their store.
With that in mind, for associates with disabilities impacted by the changes to the Greeter position, we have extended the current 60-day transition period while we explore the circumstances and potential accommodations that will make sense for each person.
Let me be clear: If any associate in this unique situation wants to continue working at Walmart, we should make every effort to make that happen.
Since we announced this change, we have already made offers to many greeters, including those with physical disabilities. We expect this will continue to be the case for many more across the country over the coming weeks.
I’m proud that we have a long-standing history of being an employer of choice for people with disabilities. We are proud to be recognized with a 100% score by the Disability Equality Index, marking three years in a row for this distinction, which recognizes the initiatives and programs we have in this space to serve both our customers and our associates.
We are confident that we are taking the right steps to do what is necessary for the business, while also treating affected associates with the respect and assistance they deserve as they transition to new opportunities. We must continue to evolve our business model by improving customer service, lowering prices and developing our associates. The future does rest in our hands.
I hope you will continue to share your feedback with us as we move forward.
While some of the displaced associates have already reported taking other positions within Walmart, others have said they have received no news from the company and anything they've heard has been through the media.