Walmart decision highlights employment struggles for people with disabilities

11 months 3 weeks 3 days ago Thursday, February 28 2019 Feb 28, 2019 Thursday, February 28, 2019 3:20:00 PM CST February 28, 2019 in News
By: Garrett Tiehes, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Some people with disabilities and their advocates are disappointed in Walmart's decision regarding "greeters," a position often filled by people who have disabilities.

Walmart announced the elimination of "greeters" at 1,000 locations Tuesday. Instead, it will have "customer hosts," who must be able to lift 25-pound packages, climb ladders and stand for long periods of time.

Some of the current greeters won't be able to satisfy the new requirements and are in fear of finding new jobs. 

An Assistant Field Operations Manager at Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation, Kim Gee said it's hard finding an employer willing to give full-time opportunities to people with disabilities. 

"There is a large resource for employers that hasn't been tapped yet, that resource is people with disabilities," she said.

Andrew Liebig who lives with a disability and a former council member on the city's disability commission said, if someone lists a disability on their job application, they won't get a call back most of the time.

"I know people that have applied for positions they were more than capable of doing and, when they applied, the answer they got back was 'Ya, you have a impressive resume, but that's about it,'" he said. 

Liebig said he was denied a position that requires computer skills because he couldn't type fast enough, even though he had 27 years of experience with computers.

Gee said, most of the time, people with disabilities tend to become employees who are reliable and stable, which means that they are likely to stay at a job and help reduce the employee turnover rate. 

"When they are given that opportunity, they absolutely shine," she said. 

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