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Walmart officials have welcomed Walmart by blue-vested "people greeters"

Walmart officials confirmed Wednesday that greeters, many of whom are disabled, will be replaced would be "customer hosts." The hosts, part of a program for the world's largest retailer, started in 2015, will still welcome customers but have added more and more physically demanding responsibilities

"As we strive to constantly improve our experience for our customers, we will need to adjust roles from time to time, "Walmart said in a statement to USA TODAY. "We have recently shared our plans to change the responsibilities of the people greeter role in some stores and that associates with disabilities in some cases."

The Associated Press reported that affected associates were told last week that their positions would be eliminated on April 26 for the host roles. This is a good place to be able to lift 25-pound packages, climb ladders and stand for long periods

Walmart said it recognizes associates with physical disabilities faced with a "unique situation."

"With 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 that can be made within each store, "said Walmart in the statement. [19659005] FedEx SameDay Bot: New emoji representing people FedEx SameDay Bot:

(Photo: Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY)

Facing backlash

Walmart founder Sam Walton championed the greeters program, which began in the early 1980s. hosts, which was expanded in May 2016, according to a company blog post. The guest is an associate that "greets customers, but also checks receipts where appropriate, assists with returns and helps keep your money clean and safe," Walmart described in the blog.

Across the country, customers have started rallying around some of

In Marion, North Carolina, an online petition was started to keep Jay Melton at his greeter job of 17 years. Melton has a cerebral palsy and can not walk without assistance, according to petition, which has close to 14,600 signatures.

"Jay's disability does not allow him to do" many of the host job responsibilities, the petition notes. "

Holly Catlin wrote a public Facebook post about her son Adam Caltin, who has a cerebral palsy and has worked as a greeter at Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania , Walmart for nine years. The Feb.

"You all know that Adam loves his job sooo much and does it with his whole heart. He looks forward to you and your families, especially your kiddos. He seems to know them all by name, "Holly Catlin wrote. "He bears from ear to ear when he speaks of his co-workers and management. They are his family in his eyes. "

The Walmart change has prompted at least three complaints to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a federal lawsuit in Utah alleging discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under the federal law, employers must provide "reasonable" accommodation to workers with disabilities.

Walmart officials said that after it made the change from greeters to hosts at more than 1,000 stores in 2016, 80 to 85 percent of all affected greeters found other roles at Walmart

Walmart initially told greeters that they would have 60 days to land other jobs at the company, but the company has extended the deadline indefinitely for greeters with disabilities

"This allows these associates to continue their employment "

Contributing to: The Associated Press

Follow Kelly Tyko on Twitter : @KellyTyko

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/02/27/walmart-greeters-some-disabled-lose-their-jobs-customer -hosts / 3010732002 /