Alfred Salvatore, a 47-year-old service technician at Verizon for over 20 years in Chester, Pennsylvania, died from coronavirus on 24 April, after repeatedly sounding the alarm over the lack of getting any protections from Covid-19 from his employer.
His wife, Natalie Salvatore, has now filed a fatal claim petition against Verizon with the Pennsylvania department of labor and industry. As a service technician, Salvatore was considered an essential worker, and continued working through the pandemic.
“He was constantly telling me he put in several complaints to his immediate supervisor and even above them, that when he went to his hub there was no hand sanitizer, there was no disinfectant spray, there was nothing to take with him to do his job,” said Natalie.
The Salvatores had known each other since grade school and had two daughters.
“Communications were considered essential work, but I’m still confused why he wasn’t given any kind of PPE,” added Natalie. “They were sending him into nursing homes where he would be the only one there with no protections. It’s bizarre to me.”
Verizon is requesting the fatal claim petition be dismissed or disallowed.
According to Natalie, no one from Verizon management or corporate ever contacted her to help in the wake of her husband’s passing.
“Verizon didn’t do anything when he was in harm’s way and they didn’t do anything when he died. Now they are contesting his death was caused by being exposed to Covid-19, despite knowing the overwhelming evidence will indicate he was in nursing homes and in public spaces with no protection,” said Samuel Pond, the attorney representing the Salvatore Family.
“They’ve been consistent in their response through this whole tragedy and it’s been inhumane and heartless,” Pond added.
Hundreds of essential workers around the US have died after contracting Covid-19, including over 900 healthcare workers, at least 100 grocery store workers and 93 meat plant workers in the first three months of the pandemic, and 132 public transit workers in New York City.
Several families of Covid-19 victims have filed lawsuits against employers for alleged lack of safety protections for workers from the coronavirus, as Republicans in Congress and some state legislators push for legislation to grant employers immunity.
In Pennsylvania, certain surviving family members can file a fatal petition claim under the state’s workers compensation law, which provides lifetime wage loss for the widow and children.
“My husband was a healthy 47-year-old man with no prior health conditions and it took his life,” added Natalie. “To say my daughters are devastated is an understatement. It’s heartbreaking. It’s a true loss for our family and for everybody who knew him.”
Verizon did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story.