As someone who worked at a Walmart for several years, I can say with authority the store’s greeters are an important part of the business.
While many see the job as an easy position usually reserved for elderly people, greeters are the first employee most customers see as they step into the store. That means they need to knowledgeably answer all sorts of questions about the store layout, policies, and other tricky topics.
Greeters often become the face of the store for regular customers, so they need to have a upbeat and helpful attitude at all times.
Adam Catlin, 30, who has worked as the greeter at the Walmart Supercenter in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania for a decade knows those requirements all too well.
Which is why he was surprised to learn that he could lose his job in April, as Walmart changes their greeter positions to "hosts" and adds new physical requirements.
Catlin’s mother, Holly, shared his story in an emotional Facebook post. "First of all," she wrote, "I will say these are my own words and not Adam's. He has no idea that I am posting this."
The new store policy, she revealed, would require greeters to lift and carry items weighing up to 25 lbs. Catlin, who has a movement disorder called cerebral palsy, could not fulfill this requirement.
Another requirement states that store "hosts" must be able to stand for all eight hours of their shift, while Catlin sits on his walker.
Other greeters at stores in different parts of the country have faced the exact same problem as their stores phase out the greeter position for new "host" jobs, forcing workers to take a new job (if they can) or accept severance pay.
One Ohio greeter with cerebral palsy was let go by his Walmart after 21 years on the job. Another worker with cerebral palsy from New York lost a discrimination lawsuit against the retail chain, after he was dismissed from his job in the lawn and garden section.
"Therefore, if he cannot perform this new list of required tasks, he will no longer have a job," Holly wrote. "He has the 'option' to reapply for this 'newly detailed' position, (which is now called a host) but, he must be able to perform those tasks, or he can find another job within the store that he can do."
She went on to write about the commitment to his store and community Catlin brings to his job every day:
You all know that Adam loves his job sooo much and does it with his whole heart. He looks forward to you and your families, especially your kiddos. He seems to know them all by name. He has always, always, had outstanding reviews and truly loves his work family, coworkers and all of management alike. He beams from ear to ear when he speaks of his co-workers and management. They are his family in his eyes. When one of them experiences a hurt, I can tell he hurts for them.
Holly writes that her son has a "strong desire to work and support himself," so losing the job he invested so many years in would be crushing. She revealed that Catlin also lost one of his sisters just six weeks ago, so this is his second piece of very bad news in only two months.
While Catlin could rely on disability payments to support himself, Holly says he would much rather keep working at Walmart.
"He even wanted to go to work rather then [sic] the hospital the morning of his heart attack," she wrote. "I am just merely letting you all know that your jolly greeter of 10 years is just being thrown to the curb from his job that he truly loves and does [wholeheartedly]."
Shoppers who are used to being welcomed by Catlin’s smiling face spoke up for him after his mother's heartfelt post attracted media attention.
"He’s just a real good kid with a good attitude, and everyone enjoys seeing him," one customer told local news station WNEP.
"If you’re having a bad day, you go in there. He makes your day," said another. "We go in every week, and I look forward to seeing him."
While Catlin dreads the April 26 deadline for the rules change, his family hopes the company will see sense and "grandfather" him in under the old requirements. Even if Catlin doesn’t get his job back, they want to help raise awareness for workers in the same unlucky position.
In a statement about the changing rules, Walmart wrote that the new "host" position is meant to keep the store "clean, safe, and secure."
"We’re committed to always providing our customers with a positive and safe shopping experience, and we know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to staffing our entrances and serving customers," their statement reads. "We look at the data from each store individually to structure the appropriate door coverage."
One of Catlin’s coworkers has started a petition to keep him in his current role. As of publishing, the document already has 5,800 of the 6,000 supporters it set out to collect, so obviously there are plenty of people cheering for Adam in this David and Goliath battle.