Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Walmart’s Decision to Eliminate Greeter Positions
Walk into a Walmart anywhere in the country, and you will most likely be welcomed with a smile by an employee in a blue vest. The employee might ask you need a cart or a shopping basket or offer your child a sticker, but he or she will almost certainly say something along the lines of, “Welcome to Walmart.”
As a business law attorney, I realize that Walmart greeters serve several purposes, including reduced losses due to shoplifting and an overall better shopping experience for customers. The position has also been helpful in providing job opportunities for older people and individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, however, times change, and by the end of April, Walmart will phase out the greeter position in favor of “customer hosts”—a role that is more physically demanding—in more than 1,000 stores nationwide. The move already has many greeters wondering about their future with the retail giant.
An Unpopular Decision
Last week, Walmart notified greeters in stores around the country that their positions are being eliminated as of April 26, 2019. In their place, the Arkansas-based retailer will employ customer hosts. A customer host will greet customers but will also be tasked with lifting up to 25 pounds, climbing ladders, retrieving shopping carts, and standing for extended periods—none of which are expected of greeters currently. According to Walmart, the company is trying to place affected greeters in other positions with the company, and those who cannot find other positions are being offered severance.
The shift toward customer hosts began about three years ago when Walmart introduced a pilot program in hundreds of stores nationwide. Hosts were asked to assist with customer returns, check receipts to deter theft, and keep the entryways clean. The point of the program was to maximize employee efficiency as the retailer tried to compete with online competitors like Amazon. The program largely flew under the radar, though, until the second round of cuts were announced this month.
Complaints Filed With the EEOC
The elimination of the greeter position is raising concerns among those who currently work in that role, especially older workers and employees with disabilities that prevent them from holding more physically demanding jobs. At least three complaints have already been filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by greeters who were affected by the first round of changes. The complaints allege that Walmart did not offer reasonable accommodations as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
Experts say that the complaints against Walmart are not cut and dry. The ADA requires “an interactive process,” says one employment lawyer with ADA experience, “some type of dialogue with the person with a disability.” The ADA requires companies to make reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities if the workers can perform the job’s essential functions. With regard to Walmart greeters, each case must be analyzed on an individual basis to ensure that workers were not discriminated against illegally.
A DuPage County Employment Lawyer Can Help
If you are in the process of redefining jobs within your company, an experienced Naperville business law attorney can help ensure that you remain compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation at the Gierach Law Firm today.