What Walmart Is Doing to Address Social Backlash Over Greeter Layoffs

Following backlash over its decision to eliminate blue-vested “people greeter” positions, Walmart has announced that it is taking “specific steps” to find alternative jobs for disabled workers.

The retail giant came under fire this week when news surfaced that it will replace its greeter roles with “customer hosts.” The responsibilities would include lifting heavy packages, climbing ladders and standing for long hours — duties that may pose problems for people with disabilities. The transition will occur in late April and affect employees at 1,000 stores across the country.

In a memo sent to store managers on Thursday night, Walmart U.S. president and CEO Greg Foran acknowledged that the retailer’s decision has “created some conversation” both within the company and in the public.

“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,” wrote president and CEO Greg Foran. “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.”

Walmart associates affected by the new role have been given an extension in the company’s 60-day transition period policy. “If any associate in this unique situation wants to continue working at Walmart, we should make every effort to make that happen,” Foran added.

A number of outraged customers and other online users had rallied behind the impacted workers this week, prompting the launch of online petitions, support groups on Facebook and complaints sent directly to the retailer’s corporate address. According to The Associated Press, at least two Walmart store greeters with cerebral palsy — who received widespread support on social media — have accepted new positions at the company.

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