Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Walmart will eliminate its well-known greeter positions this spring in favor of new customer hosts, the Arkansas-based retail chain confirmed Wednesday.
The greeter position, often filled by the elderly and disabled, is being changed to fulfill the new role of customer host. The host will need to be able to lift 25-pound packages, climb ladders and stand for long periods.
As we strive to constantly improve the experience for our customers, we will need to adjust roles from time to time," Walmart said in a statement obtained by USA Today. "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's customer host program started off as a pilot project several years ago.
In a 2016 blog post, Walmart said the customer host would be "an associate who greets customers but also checks receipts where appropriate, assists with returns and helps keep entrances clean and safe."
Walmart said that 80 to 85 percent of greeters who did not move on as customer hosts found other jobs at Walmart.
Holly Caltin's Facebook post on Feb. 18 about her son Adam losing his job as a greeter at the Selinsgrove, Pa., Walmart went viral with more than 4,000 comments while being shared 10,000 times. Adam Caltin, who worked at Walmart for nine years, has cerebral palsy.
"His Walmart family has been a huge part of his world," Holly Caltin wrote about her son, who will lose his job in April. "... I am extremely disappointed in this. Not just the way it was handled but, just the fact that it happened.
"I know corporate decisions are corporate decisions, if that's where this originated from, but, does anyone ever make any decisions anymore by putting any heart or care into it? I seriously wonder this," she continued.
Since then, Walmart extended the deadline indefinitely for greeters with disabilities to find new jobs at the company.
"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 company said in the statement.