…this is discrimination against peoples with disabilities
A beloved wheelchair-bound Walmart greeter from Pennsylvania was given an unwelcome boot out the door after the company said he couldn’t perform new demands of the job.
Danny Ockenhouse, 41, was fired from the East Stroudsburg, Pa., store where he has greeted customers at the door for over 20 years when a new Walmart program forced him to perform tasks he was unable to complete because of his disability.
The company is letting go a long-time, employee with special needs because he can’t keep up with new demands the position requires. Now shoppers and people in the community are rallying behind the worker.
“I have poured my heart and soul into this company,” Ockenhouse told, fighting back tears.
Ockenhouse, who has cerebral palsy, said he felt forced to leave the job he loves after a company restructuring, called “More At the Door,” required him to do more than just greet people as they entered Walmart. The new tasks would have included checking receipts, helping with returns and the ability to lift heavy loads — something Ockenhouse cannot do.
“I can do parts of a lot of jobs, but they said I have to be able to lift 50 pounds, put groceries in the back of people’s cars,” – Ockenhouse .
East Stroudsburg residents responded to Ockenhouse’s firing with outrage, saying the special needs employee was a committed worker whose smile was a constant presence at Walmart’s front door.
“I remember like February 2015 he came in just covered in snow. Went right to work like it was nothing!” Henry Schecker . Some nights when the weather was severe, Ockenhouse would sleep inside the store so he wouldn’t miss a day.”
“This guy lives and breathes for his job and his store,” a former store manager .
A group of protesters gathered outside the Walmart holding signs that read “Support Danny” and shouting “What do we want? Danny’s job back!”
“I mean I love what I do. Would I work all total 20 years for a place I didn’t?” Ockenhouse said.
A Walmart spokesman confirmed the 50-pound requirement and said they were able to find new positions for other greeters who lost their jobs.
“It’s unfortunate. But he wasn’t able to find a position that works for him,” the company spokesman.
Ockenhouse’s supporters started a Change.org petition calling for Walmart to rehire him and give him a 2% raise and cover his medical care.
“I would also like them to reconsider their decision to systematically end all jobs that special needs associates can perform. That was one of the very few things Walmart did that was actually humanitarian,” the petition reads.
So far, over 2,100 people have signed the petition.