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Disability advocate: Haven't heard from affected Walmart employees

Daily Item - 3/1/2019

March 01-- Mar. 1--Disability Rights Pennsylvania, a federally designated organization meant to protect and advocate for people with disabilities, invites anyone impacted by Walmart's elimination of store greeters to contact the nonprofit.

Rocco Iacullo, a staff attorney for the advocacy group, said he's familiar with the story of Adam Catlin -- a Middleburg man with cerebral palsy set to lose his greeter job April 26 -- and knows Walmart's shifting job duties has consequences for disabled persons beyond the Susquehanna Valley. However, he said no one's reached out to his agency to seek assistance.

"We would definitely like to hear from them," Iacullo said.

Walmart began in 2016 shifting away from greeters to a new position, customer hosts, at more than 1,000 stores, according to the company. Customer hosts will be tasked to aid loss prevention efforts to deter shoplifting among other more physical duties, according to company information. Greeters are to be offered new positions or severance pay, according to the company.

Justin Rushing of Walmart Corporate Communications said the nation's largest retailer "adjusts roles from time to time."

Walmart said in a statement, "We will be extending the current 60-day greeter transition period for associates with disabilities while we explore the circumstances and potential accommodations, for each individual, that can be made within each store. This allows these associates to continue their employment at the store as valued members of the team while we seek an acceptable, customized solution for all of those involved."

The independent statewide Disability Rights Pennsylvania offers education, advocacy, referrals, policy work and on select cases, legal representation.

According to its mission statement, "DRP helps people with disabilities in many areas such as abuse and neglect, access to community services, discrimination, ADA compliance issues, education, assistive technology, voting access, and access to Medical Assistance services."

Iacullo referred to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that found the employment rate for people with disabilities is 19.1 percent compared to 65.9 percent for those without disabilities. Referring to BLS data, Iacullo said the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is nearly double that for those without disabilities.

Changes to job roles pursued by Walmart appears to "disproportionately impact Walmart employees with disabilities," he said.

"The Americans with Disabilities Act requires Walmart to provide reasonable accommodations to its employees with disabilities and engage in interactive practice with them to find out whether there are accommodations that could enable them to perform essential functions of a job," he said.


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