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Why Walmart is Being Accused of Firing Disabled Workers

On April 25, Walmart will be phasing out a position, affecting a lot of their employees who have disabilities. 1,000 Walmart stores around the country are removing their greeter positions and replacing them with a new hires. The new position will be called “customer hosts” and have increased responsibilities. These will include helping shoppers, overseeing security,  and being able to lift 25 pounds along withstanding for extended periods of time. The physical aspect of the new job can be challenging for some of the workers with physical disabilities and restricting them from being able to apply for the new job. Many workers who have been working for Walmart for years are speaking out about the reality of them losing their jobs. One worker, John Combs, who has cerebral palsy was upset with the news, saying “I don’t want to lose this job. This is a real job I have”. Walmart greeters like John have come out stating their displeasure with Walmart, with one man saying that he was met with no help when he asked a manager for suggestions on getting the new “customer host” position.

 

(Courtesy of Shutterstock on Pixabay)

 

Walmart is known for its controversial labor practices and has come under scrutiny multiple times for their mistreatment of employees. Marlo Spaeth, who worked at a Walmart in Wisconsin for 15 years was fired because of alleged disability discrimination. Spaeth, who has Down Syndrome, normally worked the afternoon shift was fired after she struggled to adapt to the a new shift schedule that would require she work longer hours and later than she was accustomed to. Walmart refused pleas from Spaeth’s sister to rehire her with reasonable shifts. In turn the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against WalMart, stating that the retail chain had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by firing Spaeth. Walmart’s CEO and president, Greg Foran, has to responded to this backlash by emphasising Walmart’s efforts  to support and find new roles for disabled workers. The 60 day transition period given to disabled workers to find new jobs seems heartless considering many of these workers have been employed at Walmart for five or more years.

(Courtesy of Shutterstock on Pixabay)

It’s disheartening that a billion dollar company has decided to eliminate a job, primarily filled by disabled workers. It seems almost strategic and deceitful for Walmart to elimite and create a new position, resulting in unemployment for their disabled workers. Two of my childhood friends have disabilities and have worked many jobs including being a host at restaurants, cashiering at coffee shops and grocery shops, restocking, etc. They are perfectly capable of working and actually enjoy their job, like many of the Walmart greeters. It’s disheartening and devastating to see how Walmart is treating their disabled workers, I previously tried to steer clear of Walmart because of previous allegations of mistreating employees, and with the current news I will not be supporting this retail giant.

Yasmine Hetherington

UC Riverside '21

Yasmine Hetherington is an undergraduate student student at the University of California Riverside. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in business. When she's not studying she enjoys painting, drawing, and hiking in her hometown in the Bay Area.
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