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Customers at Walmart in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, are upset that a popular employee has been let go from the company.
WBRE reported Friday that Daniel Ockenhouse, 41, who has cerebral palsy, was fired because he can’t keep up with new demands of the job.
Former employee Henry Schecker said he remembers when Ockenhouse, who worked as a greeter, came in to work in February 2015 when there was a snowstorm.
“I remember … he came in just covered in snow,” Schecker said. “(He) went right to work like it was nothing.”
WBRE reported that Ockenhouse, who made a two-mile trip to work in his motorized wheelchair everyday, would sometimes sleep in the store overnight during bad weather so he wouldn’t not miss work.
Ockenhouse said he worked as a greeter for 20 years and loved what he did.
But he was fired when the store changed its greeter position to “customer host,” which included more responsibilities, such as helping with returns and checking receipts. There was also a requirement to be able to lift 50 pounds, which, according to WBRE, forced Ockenhouse to take a severance package.
“I just want my job back, and I want to be appreciated,” Ockenhouse told the Pocono Record. “The customers appreciate me.”
“I’m perfectly capable of doing that and I tried to tell (them) that but (they) just wouldn’t listen,” Ockenhouse said.
Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg told the Pocono Record there were new positions available at the store, but Ockenhouse did not apply for them.
The Pocono Record reported Saturday that Ockenhouse’s popularity led to a community protest to show support.
Ockenhouse is grateful to his community: “I thank everybody, because it really means a lot to me.”
“This is a difficult situation because Danny was a part of what made our store special,” Lundberg said in a statement to the Pocono Record. “We very much wanted Danny to stay with Walmart and the store tried hard to help him find another position in their store and nearby stores; unfortunately, he didn’t find an opening that he felt met his needs at this time.”