Can an employer make a disabled workers job description more difficult?

Walmart has historically been a company open to employing workers with disabilities, enabling many to avoid applying for Social Security disability benefits because they were gainfully employed. Many disabled employees hold the position of “store greeter” –a job that merely requires greeting customers with a friendly hello and goodbye as they enter and exit the store. But Walmart recently announced plans to change its “store greeters” policy– and its plans have unleashed an extreme backlash from the public and the disabled community.

“Store greeters” are reportedly being replaced by “customer hosts”. Unfortunately, the new position requires additional responsibilities that may be difficult or impossible for disabled individuals to handle. Rather than just greeting customers, which can be done by someone in a wheelchair, the customer host position requires employees to do additional duties including but not limited to “lift 25 pounds, clean up spills, collect carts and stand for long periods of time”. Obviously, workers with certain physical and mental disabilities will not be able to perform some or all of these additional tasks and are reportedly subject to termination.

Many of these workers struggle with physical and mental conditions that are on the government’s list of conditions that are generally recognized as qualifying for social security disability benefits—such as cerebral palsy. These workers, like many disabled people, strive to work for despite their disability if they are able to do so and may have chosen not to apply for disability benefits because of the relatively easy greeter position and the opportunities for socialization that it adds to what otherwise could be a more isolated life.

Some of these workers– at Walmarts throughout the country– have been employed for approximately 20 years and fear losing their jobs. In response to the backlash, Walmart is reportedly extending the date for the changeover in policy and will review how the new policy will affect disabled workers on a case-by-case basis.

If you or a loved one need help applying for Social Security disability benefits, appealing the denial of benefits, or have any questions regarding disability benefits law, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

With offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, Arizona we regularly represent residents in those areas in all aspects of disability law.