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A Pennsylvania man with cerebral palsy was let go this month from his job as a greeter at Walmart when he wasn’t able to lift heavy items. Numerous of people are standing behind the long-time store employee, and even started a petition to have him rehired.
New York Daily News reports that 41-year-old Danny Ockenhouse worked as a greeter at the East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Walmart for over 20 years with no complaints. He was popular among the customers for his friendly smile and the warmth he exuded as soon as they walked into the door. Although he lives with cerebral palsy and has to get around in a motorized wheelchair, he was always at work, rain or shine, making customers happy.
That all changed when a new company program called “More at the Door” was enforced at the East Stroudsburg Walmart. The program entails checking receipts, keeping the entrance safe and clean, helping with returns, and greeting more customers.
The new program went into effect for numerous different Walmart stores across the nation where theft and other security issues tend to be higher. Greeters-turned-customer hosts in the chosen stores now have the additional duties of ensuring no one leaves the store without paying for goods.
According to Walmart.com, the stores chosen for the “More at the Door” program were analyzed “for safety, security and shrink risks,” and in turn, the job of greeter at the chosen stores were eliminated to make room for the customer host positions.
Ockenhouse stated he was clearly capable of the extra job duties, but his manager simply wouldn’t listen to him. Instead, his manager offered him another job that entails lifting objects up to 50 pounds. Since Ockenhouse couldn’t lift items that heavy, he was let go.
“I have poured my heart and soul into this company,” said Ockenhouse.
A Walmart spokesperson indicated that Ockenhouse, along with other greeters, were offered the other positions at the store, but since Ockenhouse can’t lift heavy items, he was given a severance package and forced to leave the job he’s had for more than two decades.
“It’s unfortunate. But he wasn’t able to find a position that works for him,” the spokesperson said.
It’s not something Ockenhouse wants to accept, and apparently a number of other people are backing him.
“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,” he said.
A Change.org petition was recently created, in hopes that it will garner enough signatures to not only help Ockenhouse get his job back, but also to help convince Walmart to give him a 25% raise, and cover his medical expenses for the rest of the time he’s employed with the company.
According to the petition,
Why can they not accommodate his disability after 21 years of service. I propose one they give Danny his job back, two they give him a 25% raise, and three they cover his medical for the rest of the time he is employed with them. I would also like them to reconsider their decision to systematically end all jobs that special needs associates can perform.”
Although Ockenhouse is disabled and doesn’t have to work, the fact that he chooses to do so anyway has touched the hearts of many people. Ockenhouse himself is touched by all of the support he’s receiving. Currently, the petition has 5,425 signature out of its goal of 7,500.
“I thank everybody. Because it really means a lot to me,” Ockenhouse said.
Former store manager Keith Sturges is among the people who stand behind Ockenhouse. He remembered how much Ockenhouse loved his job.
“This guy lives and breathes for his job and his store.”
In fact, Ockenhouse takes “living and breathing” for his job to an entirely new level. On nights when it snowed or rained heavily, Ockenstack would sleep inside the store to ensure that he was there the next day to greet customers.
Click here to help Danny Ockenhouse get his job back.