Durham Walmart greeter with disability among many losing job to position shift

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The story of a North Carolina Walmart greeter went viral after the retail giant said it was eliminating his position. Thousands of people signed a position asking Walmart to give Jay Melton his job back, and eventually, Walmart did.

This isn’t the first time a disabled greeter has been let go.

Every afternoon for 16 years, Paul Reynolds said these three words: “Welcome to Walmart.”

Reynolds worked as a part-time greeter at a Walmart in Durham.

“It was very cool because I got to meet so many people because you’re just sitting there and you don’t know who’s going to walk in the door,” Reynolds said.

In 1994, a car crash changed his life. One of his friends got behind the wheel after drinking. His friend died. Reynolds suffered some brain damage, is now legally blind and needs a wheelchair to move around.

“I’d like to get another job doing something,” Reynolds said.

But Reynolds hasn’t been able to, not since he was let go from Walmart in 2016.  

“I was hurt because I had been there for 16 years then I don’t know why (they) take away my peoples greeting job. I was sort of ticked off I guess,” Reynolds explained. “But there was nothing I could do about it.”

Reynolds said Walmart told him they wanted someone who could be on their feet and help with security.

CBS 17 learned many other Walmart greeters like Reynolds will soon lose their jobs. Walmart is replacing the greeter job with a new position called customer host. The job includes more physical responsibilities, so people like Reynolds can’t apply.

“That would definitely hurt people with disabilities because we can’t climb ladders,” Reynolds said.

ARC of the Triangle has been trying to find Reynolds a new job, but it’s tough.

“I keep seeing on the news people just like Paul have worked there for years and years and they’ve put in so much time, so much effort and it doesn’t mean anything which I think is horrible,” said Rachel Werdebaugh, Employment Specialist With ARC of the Triangle.

Justin Rushing with Walmart Corporate Communications sent CBS 17 a statement. It reads in part, “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.”  

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