Photo: Andrei Stanescu (iStock)

“Welcome to Walmart.” That’s how shoppers first encounter greeters, the Walmart employees tasked with welcoming customers to stores. These greeters have been a staple of Walmart shopping experience, but NPR now reports the retailer will eliminate these jobs at 1,000 stores nationally.

Walmart is reportedly replacing those greeters with “customer hosts,” an expanded role that includes not just greeting shoppers but also assisting shoppers or taking care of security. Because of the added requirements of that role, NPR reports many of Walmart’s greeters with disabilities would no longer be able to perform the jobs functions, which include the ability to “lift 25 pounds, clean up spills, collect carts and stand for long periods of time.” The change therefor “appears to disproportionately affect workers with disabilities,” many of whom told NPR they’ve been told they will lose their jobs toward the end of April.

“As we strive to constantly improve the experience for our customers, we will need to adjust roles from time to time. We’ve recently shared our plans to change the responsibilities of the people greeter role in some stores and that involves associates with disabilities in some cases,” Walmart said in a statement to The Takeout. “We recognize that our associates with physical disabilities face a unique situation. With that in mind, 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.”

Walmart is the largest private employer in America, NPR notes. The company’s 2015 Diversity & Inclusion report states that in 2005, Walmart formed a series of Associate Resource Groups including one called ADEA, or Associates For Disability Awareness And Education.

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Adam Catlin, a man who is legally blind and has worked as a Walmart greeter for more than a decade, told the Associated Press it was “a shock” to learn that he would no longer be employed by the store in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.

His mother’s Facebook post about the situation has been shared almost 10,000 times. “Due to his disability, he has always had the option to stay home and collect SSI [Social Security],” she writes. “However, Adam has such a strong desire to work and support himself. … I am putting this out there to make all of you, his friends, that he has made in the community, know, to not expect his smiling face and heartfelt, booming ‘hello’ as you enter those doors in the future. (After April) What a sad loss...to you, and definitely to him.”

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