January 6th, 2012

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Equal Treatment the Key to Lowe’s Success in Hiring People With Disabilities


Based on the story of Sarah Cacciaglia we covered in December, it’s no surprise to see Lowe’s on the National Organization for Disability (NOD) “Fine Nine” list of companies making the hiring of people with disabilities a priority. We’ve been going through the list since Tuesday, exploring the policies and practices of each company, and as the Business Management Daily story on the list points out, Lowe’s has exhibited “a long-time commitment to hiring people with disabilities and builds awareness of the company’s job opportunities for people with disabilities.”

A Google keyword search of “Lowe’s employing people with disabilities” returns about 153,000 results, starting with Lowe’s own page of social responsibility awards for the company’s dedication to hiring a diverse workforce, which includes the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for hiring 46 workers with disabilities in Lowe’s Pittston distribution center.

Distribution centers are one of the primary places where the home improvement retailer concentrates its hiring of people of with disabilities. A hiring notice on Connecticut’s Department of Developmental Services Web page details the training program, which starts with a job coach providing hands-on training for a 90-day probationary period. If the employee is able to maintain production levels, he or she becomes a permanent employee, but with the job coach continuing in a supporting role that helps the employee “learn their positions, stay on task and handle social skills training.”

The company’s track record was the subject of study during the April 2011 U.S. Business Leadership Network’s (USBLN) Corporate Disability Employment Summit. Kathy Gurchiek covered the presentation made by Lowe’s senior vice president for distribution, Stephen Szilagyi, in an article for the Illinois Department of Human Services newsletter. Szilagyi pointed to one employee in the company Pittston Center, Chad Guerrero, who began as an employee in the shipping department but now trains other workers:

‘He’s exactly the kind of person you want on your team, but you can’t have him. He’s ours,’ Szilagyi said. It was a refrain he repeated as he told of other successful hires, including a man who exceeds productivity levels in his department despite having Down syndrome, and another with cerebral palsy who has limited use of his left hand. The only real accommodation employers have to make, Szilagyi said, is the change needed in the ‘five inches between your ears.’

Szilagyi was also interviewed for the May 2011 edition of the Distribution Center Management newsletter. The articles are only available to subscribers, but a press release on the website, DistributionGroup.com, outlines the lessons Szilagyi says Lowe’s has learned through its initiatives to hire more people with disabilities. They include being flexible with the training process while still having the same expectations for performance as other workers making the same wages, with the most critical component being finding the right community partners to identify and train workers.

Lowe’s also has a large selection of products that foster independent living for people with disabilities in its Accessible Home department. Everything from safety to mobility to communication assistance is treated with the same style and self-improvement approach as other products.


Image by bossco (Raymond Shobe), used under its Creative Commons license.

15 Responses to “Equal Treatment the Key to Lowe’s Success in Hiring People With Disabilities”

  1. This is the perfect webpage for anybody who really wants to understand this topic.
    You realize a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you
    (not that I actually will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a fresh spin on a topic which has been written about for decades.
    Great stuff, just great!

  2. BENNY HOWARD says:

    I worked for Lowe’s for almost 10 years. In January if 2015 I had back surgery AND I have PLS (a neuromuscular disease). I knew when I left I would not be able to return to Lowe’s because of my handicap. They would NOT allow an employee to work because he had sprained his ankle and was using a cane and he was told he was not allowed to use a cane at work.

  3. Wayne Ford says:

    I am being excluded from work at Lowe’s because of a temporary disability requiring me to use a wheelchair, this is an exclusion even after doctors and workers comp, have approved me to return to work on light duty, The excuse I was given by the store manager is I am a liability,

  4. Collette Coleman says:

    My son is autistic and he has been working at Lowe’s for almost 2 years his supervisor does not treat him very well and usually almost always makes him miss his transportation I’d like to know what I could do about this situation maybe his supervisor needs more training on how to deal with people with disabilities

  5. Renee Stark says:

    I have been on disability since the year 2009 I started working at Lowe’s in 2016, where I request at the time of hire that I work daytime hours because of visibility problems in the evening driving and my condition worsens in late hours in the afternoon. Everything went fine for the first year after that everything was off the table I had to go through accommodations I did that April of 20 18 they did not respond or put into action any of the accommodations until October 2018 I’ve had to file a complaint with the human rights Department the state of Minnesota.I am still being harassed by this company regarding my accommodations.I have no other way to put it.I was told by the assistant store manager that some of my accommodations were denied, when I was never told this by the corporate HR dept. She told me to go back to the doctors for those accommodations that were suppose to last until 2020. This company should not a Government Contract, when they do not abide by the ADA laws.

  6. Judith Johnson says:

    My son is 38 and handicapped from an auto acciident in 1998 and in a wheelchair. He worked for Lowe’s in NJ for 15 years finding employment through social services and became the store greeter. Last year he was moved to hardware and has had a terrible experience. On Jan 3rd he was called in and told his services were no longer needed and he was given no prior warning, no severance, no letter of termination. He left in his wheelchair and didn’t even have anyone call the transportation service he uses. We can’t get in touch with ANYONE from human resources. DESPICABLE!!

  7. Laura says:

    Lowes may have been good in the past, but they are terrible now. My brother is a disabled veteran, and they make it extremely difficult for him. I am also disabled, but have had none of the obstacles at my place of employment – my employer has supported me in a way that has increased my ability to work. Lowes on the other hand, makes it increasingly difficult for disabled people.

  8. Natalie says:

    Hi! I’m autistic and I use my own car. Management is nice to me and let me have my own hours due to me getting overwhelmed. I have little or no support from my coworkers. There’s no point in explaining myself when I make a mistake to people who cannot or won’t understand. For two years, I have been applying to hundreds of jobs to replace this one and I feel stuck!! It’s all affecting my mental health

  9. I am an A.D.A. person and need a job now in land scaping and fencing and should not be discriminated against by LOWE,S

  10. Deforest Ross says:

    My Husband has a traumatic brain injury and has had 10 strokes. When I applied to Lowes on his behalf I clearly stated he had a brain injury and collecting carts is all he could really do. My husband was hired August 2020 and worked there for a year.
    Up until June 2021 he worked collecting carts and assisting with loading. Even though he has had strokes he did his best with assisting with the loading.
    Lowes had him working the late shift a lot ,which was very late and he is night blind and confused coming home at night. His Doctor wrote a letter telling Lowes that he could not work past 7pm and it must be in day light hours because of his confusion at night.
    Lowes moved him from carts to watering flowers (which is a seasonal job) and now have turned around and told us they have nothing for him.
    So after a year of service they just dumped him like yesterday’s garbage. I will be calling an attorney.
    Disgusting way to treat a human being and it seems that they are unaware of the American disability act and what should be followed to accommodate someone who is disabled. Shame on them!

  11. Allen M Brodess says:

    I”m autistic and much more… Actually the a.d.a isnt going to cover you here .. The only enforceable accommodations are those given at the time of application that where accepted and yes not after 7pm kills many cart collecting jobs we need em put away as the store closes… watering flowers is usually on the task list of regular lawn and garden employee’s that was a special position from the sounds of it created just for him and you got pushy with ada stuff and so on and no one wants to deal with people talking law and lawyers all the time..THey arent responsible for providing increasing accomodations . The ada is a vague tool that pretty much no one actually understand but a handful of us as you just showed here you don’t.. having a disability does not make you immune to termination if there is no longer a job for you or if you’re becoming an increasing pain.. YOu throw around words like that and HR run’s for the hills ,cut their losses before you have something legitimate to complain about.. sounds like you went falsley ada whining about the seasonal and as logic dictates they took that too… SOrry to hear about this but you really have to have more finess and learn the magic words to never say like “A.D.A’ .. you say a.d.a rather than could you please accommodate this here’s my letter from the doctor you wont get another job even in the disability network ,also gotta apply for jobs that don’t tend towards nights/keep you from completing the tasks of the job… c

  12. donald86 says:

    Great Article! Thank you for sharing this is a very informative post, and looking forward to the latest one.

  13. Vivian Parker says:

    Lowe’s even uses a picture of a associate using a wheelchair in the aisle but what they don’t tell you is the person is a cashier and customers get angry with him because the expect him to take everything out of their shopping cart for them and put it back once all their stuff is scanned. You can not work on the sales floor and use a wheelchair.

  14. Tursa says:

    They also have potential that can help any business. And nice insights you shared.

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