HAZEL GREEN, Ala. - WHNT News 19 receives a lot of emails from our viewers hoping we will Take Action and Get Results for them. Recently, a mom asked us for help after she says her son, who has cerebral palsy, was discriminated against at work.
Her son is a greeter at the Hazel Green Walmart, but he's been told his position is being eliminated and there's nothing else he can do at the store since he can't climb a ladder.
It's not a super high paying position, but Mitchell Hartzell said it gave his life more meaning. "It gave me a place to go every day, where I wouldn't be sitting at home doing nothing," added Hartzell.
And while he's only missed one day of work in his years as a door greeter, he's been told his last day is April 26th.
"I haven't slept through the night since I got the news," shared Hartzell. "Since this position was going away and because I couldn't climb a ladder, I pretty much would have to transfer to another store."
The closest Walmart is 23 minutes away and since he depends on others for transportation, that's not an option for him. Even if he did try to transfer, with the policy that introduces hosts instead of greeters, he probably wouldn't be accommodated at any location because he's in a wheelchair.
"Everything is a challenge for me, but I've dealt with it all my life," explains Hartzell. "I've developed systems to deal with it. I don't know any other way. I was born this way."
This is the only job Hartzell has ever had. He was told his store is a "low theft" store, and greeters are no longer needed. Walmart said the policy isn't new, but every store wasn't immediately impacted. Walmart issued a statement to WHNT News 19:
More than two years ago we started a program in more than 1,000 stores using customer hosts to staff entrances. Customer hosts give customers a welcome as they enter our stores and keep the front clean, safe and secure.
Over the last two years, we’ve continued to expand this program and introduce more customer host roles in our stores, adding more responsibility and pay to the traditional People Greeter role.
We recognize this is a unique situation and it will take time to explore possible solutions. As we phase the greeter role out of this store over a 60-day period, our store management and local human resource teams will be in regular contact with the associates as they explore every available option.
We’re committed to always providing our customers with a positive and safe shopping experience, and we know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to staffing our entrances and serving customers. We look at the data from each store individually to structure the appropriate door coverage.
Hartzell said he was lied to when he asked if there were open positions he could fill.
He said another greeter was offered a self-checkout position. "A position I know I could've done."
He's filed an inquiry with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but says he won't have a phone interview until April. He said his job will nearly be gone by that point.
"My mind is racing one hundred miles and hour trying to figure out what to do next," said Hartzell.
Mitchell Hartzell says the news has left him feeling devalued and hopeless when it comes to finding another job and he isn't the only one that will be impacted. Hartzell says there is also a 77-year-old greeter that will lose their position because they can't climb a ladder or perform certain additional tasks.