For the last 4 and half years of my life, I have been a dedicated Walmart associate.
Starting from an Overnight Support Manager, then promoting to an amazing opportunity in the Academy, where I had the pleasure to tap into my skills of teaching and training. I helped develop some amazing managers and really thrived in the environment. I then was phased out after 3 ½ years, due to position name changes and restructuring. I went back into operations, in my area of expertise, Overnight management.
After 10 months of being mistreated, overlooked, and overworked, I transitioned over to Neighborhood Market, where I was first a Stocking 2 Team Lead. After experiencing mental health issues I then took a leave of absence to get well. I came back and took a position in the deli and bakery.
In one months time, I promoted to Deli and Bakery Academy Trainer, where I coupled my love for training and development along with my strong work ethic and again thrived in the role. In these years, Walmart has allowed me to realize my dream of being a mother, my childhood dream of being a teacher, and my ability to be rewarded for my hard work and dedication to every role that I was given.
When I read the story about Janikka’s untimely death, it shook me. I could not imagine what her family must be experiencing and I decided to take a stand and be apart of it. Almost a week to the day that I signed the petition and joined the movement my life changed drastically.
I had been dealing with back pain for most of my adult life, but when the pain got to the point of almost crippling me I went to the doctor to find out what was wrong. My doctor sat me down with the results of a recent MRI, and said to me “ you have some hard decisions to make.” I was then told that I had a ripped disc in my back, and a bulging disc in my neck and that I need to restrict my lifting at work. This turned my world upside down.
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I got a shot in my back to treat the ripped disc and every since things have been different. No accommodations were given to me immediately, instead I was told to submit my documentation to Accommodations at Sedgwick, before they would be honored. From March until May, I continued to lift things heavier than my doctor stated, and kept trying to push through the pain and just keep doing my job. On May 5th Sedgwick Accommodations reached out to me and told me that I would not be able to continue in my current role, and that I was immediately being placed on an unpaid reassignment leave (due to my FMLA being exhausted from previous leaves).
I have not worked since. Every bill in my house is due and I am just forced to wait.
Since May, everything in my life has taken a turn for the worst. I am being evicted from my home for the last four years. I have had a wage garnishment of 25% placed on my small 65% short term disability pay. It has gotten so bad I had to get a job paying $15 an hour to offset the loss of income.
I feel that the Janikka policy can help many associates with similar stories to mine. I am standing up for Walmart associates because I could have become paralyzed easily continuing to work in spite of knowing my condition.
I currently have 3 points as a result of my condition and previously only had 1 and took pride in my attendance and making sure that I did not accumulate points as 5 is the max you can receive before being terminated. No one should have to ignore their health to keep their job.
I have found that during this reassignment process it will be difficult to find a position for myself with having 3 points. No one will really give you a chance as you are considered high risk with that many points. The point system has been consistent issue with turnover and retention within the Walmart stores. After so many abused the Covid leave policy, and caused many stores to go understaffed and many to be overworked, it should seriously be reconsidered.
Standing up through United 4 Respect I’ve come to realize I’m not alone and that other associates are experiencing the same thing.
No one should ever have to choose between their health and employment. An associate should feel heard when going through difficult health conditions and feel like who they are outside of being a Walmart associate, A PERSON. A person that matters to their families, friends, and communities. A person that is more than the work that they do at Walmart. A person that matters.
It is important to take action now because no other family should have to bury a family member because they were afraid to leave work due to being sick. No one should have to choose between being healthy and going to work. No one else should have to be penalized by the point system for not being in the best health. No one should have to deal with this type of psychological torment and abuse. We can do something and WE MUST do something. NOW.
Information posted here has been submitted directly by Walmart associates and was not created or developed by United for Respect. The opinions and statements in these stories are those of the authors.