While Walmart is planning to replace its greeters with customer hosts, stores are “taking specific steps to support” disabled employees affected by the change, officials announced Thursday.
Greg Foran, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., sent a memo to all store managers Thursday outlining the transition and how “each case requires a thoughtful solution.”
Customer hosts still greet customers but have added and more physically demanding responsibilities than greeters, which have been part of the company since the early 1980s. Some of the greeters are disabled, but the exact number wasn’t available.
“As can sometimes happen, this change has created some conversation both externally and internally, specifically where associates with disabilities are concerned,” Foran wrote in the two-page memo.
Stores started telling affected workers their jobs could be in jeopardy more than a week ago. There is usually a 60-day window for affected workers to apply for other roles in the company while continuing in their current job.
However, for associates with disabilities impacted by the changes, Foran said, the company has “extended the current 60-day transition period while we explore the circumstances and potential accommodations that will make sense for each person.”
Since the change was announced, Foran said, Walmart has made offers to a number of the 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,” he said.
Jay Melton, who has worked as a greeter at a Walmart in Marion, North Carolina, is one of the affected employees. An online petition was started to keep Melton, who has cerebral palsy and can’t walk without assistance, at the store.
The Marion Walmart posted on Facebook that Melton will be staying.
“We are so excited to announce that Jay has accepted a position as a Self-Checkout Host,” the Facebook post said. “Jay has been a part of our store for the last 17 years and is well known throughout our community. Please help us congratulate Jay on his new position!”
In his memo, Foran said he was proud of the chain’s history “of being an employer of choice for people with disabilities.”
Walmart officials have said that after it made the change from greeters to hosts at more than 1,000 stores in 2016, 80 to 85 percent of all affected greeters found other roles at Walmart.
“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,” Foran said.