scorecardAn 84-year-old Walmart greeter said he was fired for his age, prompting a $50,000 GoFundMe campaign. Walmart said he refused to do parts of his job and 'exhibited unacceptable behavior.'
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An 84-year-old Walmart greeter said he was fired for his age, prompting a $50,000 GoFundMe campaign. Walmart said he refused to do parts of his job and 'exhibited unacceptable behavior.'

Ben Tobin   

An 84-year-old Walmart greeter said he was fired for his age, prompting a $50,000 GoFundMe campaign. Walmart said he refused to do parts of his job and 'exhibited unacceptable behavior.'
Retail2 min read
Thane Telford worked at a Walmart store in Payson, Utah, for 14 years before being fired in February 2023.    Teresa Telford
  • 84-year-old Thane Telford worked at Walmart for 14 years and said he was fired due to his age.
  • Walmart said Telford was fired because he did not fulfill all of his daily responsibilities.

Thane Telford is a familiar face for Walmart shoppers in Payson, Utah.

The 84-year-old greeter, who often wore wacky hats to his job, said he loved working at the retail giant for roughly 14 years. After several different jobs that didn't allow him to save up for retirement – ranging from racehorse trainer to steelworker to welder – he landed at Walmart to help pay bills and medical expenses for him and his family.

In his time with the company, he "never had a problem," he told Insider. But earlier this month, Telford said he was suddenly fired. He alleges that Walmart pushed him out because of his age. Walmart said Telford didn't do his job.

Meanwhile, Telford's story has caught the attention of his local community in Utah, leading to a fundraising campaign that has netted nearly $50,000 and a demonstration outside the store where he worked.

The saga began about six months ago. Telford said his boss at Walmart called him into his office and asked Telford how he would like to retire. Telford said he wasn't ready to retire.

Then, on February 8, Telford said his boss once again pulled him into his office and said "I'm sorry, we got to fire you."

"He told me 'you're getting too old and you're having too many problems,'" Telford said.

He said his boss also accused him of cursing at a customer — something Telford vehemently denied. Telford and members of his family told Insider they are considering suing Walmart for alleged age discrimination.

Walmart, however, said that Telford was fired because he wasn't completing his tasks.

"Mr. Telford was focused on greeting customers but repeatedly refused to perform his daily responsibilities and unfortunately exhibited unacceptable behavior, resulting in his termination," Walmart spokesman Charles Crowson told Insider. The retailer did not elaborate on how Telford refused to do his job or the nature of his behavior.

Walmart announced changes to its store greeter position in 2016. Instead of just greeting customers, the Walmart employees would be required to check receipts "where appropriate," assist with returned items, and keep store entrances clean. Years later, the retailer faced backlash following reports that some employees with disabilities could lose their jobs as a result of these changes.

Teresa Telford, Thane Telford's daughter, challenged Walmart to "show proof" of his failure to do the job.

"Not one write up or any complaints," she wrote in a text message to Insider. "His job was to be a greeter!"

She added: "If they had any performance issues, they should have talked to him about it and documented."

Meanwhile, people in Payson and nationwide are rallying around Telford. A GoFundMe launched shortly after his firing to help support Telford, who has heart issues, and his wife, who is in remission with cancer. As of Wednesday afternoon, the fundraiser had raised close to $50,000.

And last week, Telford along with friends, family, and supporters, held a demonstration at the Payson Walmart parking lot in support of the former greeter, according to local television station KUTV.

He said he plans to look for a new job soon.

"I've already got four or five people at other companies who have told me 'come on in, I'll give you a job in a minute!'"

Contact the reporter Ben Tobin over email at btobin@insider.com or on Signal at +1 703-498-9171.




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