News Article Details

Family believes greeter won't keep job after call with Walmart officials

Daily Item - 2/21/2019

Feb. 21-- Feb. 21--Adam Catlin, a 30-year-old Middleburg man born with cerebral palsy, believes he won't keep his job as a greeter at Walmart's Selinsgrove Supercenter after speaking with company representatives Wednesday.

The Catlin family spoke with representatives of Walmart's corporate office and ended a video conference call with no resolution, according to Catlin's sister, Amber Piermattei. The family believes Catlin, 30, of Middleburg, will be offered severance pay and won't work beyond April 26, his last scheduled shift as a greeter.

Walmart is transitioning front-of-store duties at stores across the country, shifting from "greeters" to "customer hosts." Catlin said he won't be able to meet the physical demands of the new position.

"I felt like the call was to appease us," Piermattei said. "They asked if we had any questions and we said we wanted to know how Adam could keep his job."

Catlin was on the call and explained he wanted to continue to greet the customers he's befriended while working inside the store entrance the past 10 years.

"I just want to go back to work," Catlin said.

Piermattei said Walmart reminded her that Catlin remained a Walmart employee but said the conversation led the family to believe Catlin would lose his job.

"They needed to know his (Adam's) limitations and we said we would have to know what job they were considering because stocking shelves is different than being a greeter. The man said he had nothing in mind at this time and said they would talk to the HR department and dig deeper and get back to us," Piermattei said.

Walmart began in 2016 shifting job duties at the fronts of stores in a staggered rollout. The company asks employees in the new position of customer hosts to do more in the way of carrying merchandise and keeping watch on those who come and go as a way to deter shoplifting, according to a company blog post.

The work extends beyond checking receipts and giving a warm welcome and farewell that greeters take on. Cerebral palsy restricts Catlin's strength and motor skills. He relies on a walker to hold himself upright and walk. The new job duties ask that he stand for extensive periods of time, carry merchandise and supplies up to 25 pounds and twist, turn, reach and bend in ways his body won't allow.

After 10 years at the store, Catlin faces losing a job he loves, the only job he's ever held. Though he's given the chance to explore options at the Selinsgrove store and nearby locations, he doesn't believe there's another job that would allow for his disability.

"I am not looking for anything other than to be able to continue to do my job," Catlin said. "But it's pretty cool to see so many people care about me."

A Walmart corporate spokesman, Kory Lundberg, reiterated in an email to The Daily Item in the noon hour Wednesday that the shift in job duties from greeters to customer hosts is based on data studies at individual stores of theft and safety issues. More than 1,000 stores have undergone a change since 2016, he said.

"Adam is a valued member of the team and part of what makes our Selinsgrove store special. We're looking for a solution that keeps him with the store. There is a 60-day transition period as part of this change, which allows us to be thoughtful and find the best solution for everyone," Lundberg said prior to the video conference call between the Catlins and corporate representatives.

"We know there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to staffing our entrances and serving customers," Lundberg said.

News began to spread Monday about Catlin's situation when his mother, Holly Catlin, of Middleburg, posted to Facebook. It's since received more than 8,100 shares, 2,400 comments and 3,000 "likes."

A Facebook group, Team Adam, gained nearly 5,500 members in about one day. Members bandied about loosely made plans for a demonstration at the store and sales of t-shirts in support of Adam Catlin. Mostly, they share messages of support for the Catlin family and condemnation for Walmart.

A petition created at change.org had more than 4,600 signatures by 5:25 p.m. Wednesday. The goal is 5,000 signatures.

Adam Catlin received job offers from Rocco's Pizza and Papa John's Pizza, Geisinger Medical Center, Red Robin and Weis Markets, according to the Catlin family.

Holly Catlin and her daughter, Amber Piermattei, repeated notions of gratitude for the way the community responded to Adam Catlin's situation.

"It's been overwhelming," Holly Catlin said Wednesday. "The community support has just been amazing."

"Sometimes we all take for granted the community we live in but after seeing this it shows what a strong community we have," Piermattei added. "We are all very overwhelmed with this and we can't thank everyone enough for their support."

Holly Catlin said that while the family greatly appreciates requests by community members to conduct fundraisers and benefits on behalf of her son, they're not in need of monetary benefit. She also cautioned that if a public demonstration were to occur, the family wouldn't want it to be disrespectful to Walmart or embarrass Adam Catlin. Piermattei clarified online that while the family wouldn't attend a protest, if people chose to do so she asked it be done respectfully.

"Please know that we do appreciate your good-heartedness and generosity. We will not have any extra expense through this situation and do not wish to gain anything besides Adam being able to keep his job. We also hope that this, in some way, helps other handicapped employees nationwide. So, I am kindly asking that you wait and do those things in the future for families in the community who have suffered a tragedy or an individual with a medical need," Holly Catlin wrote in a Facebook update.

Holly Catlin received messages from people all over the country and has been contacted by national media outlets looking to tell Adam's story.

"I just want to go back to Walmart," Adam Catlin said. "That's where all my friends are."

Adam Catlin's next shift is Friday and he said he will do what he has done for the past 10 years.

"I will greet everyone that comes in," he said. "That's what I love to do."

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(c)2019 The Daily Item (Sunbury, Pa.)

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