A Turlock widow of a Safeway employee who died from COVID-19 is suing the supermarket chain for wrongful death and negligence. The lawsuit alleges her husband caught the virus while working in dangerous conditions at the Safeway distribution center in Tracy where at least 51 workers have tested positive. Norma Zuniga is seeking unspecified general and punitive damages from Safeway and its parent company Albertsons.
The complaint claims Safeway threatened to discipline Pedro Zuniga and his coworkers when they raised concerns about safety issues including the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and how closely they were working despite the social distancing guidelines in place at the time. The suit alleges the company failed to screen employees with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while requiring longer shifts and discouraging calling in sick through demerit points. The suit went further and also alleges the company failed to implement safety measures such as sanitation stations until after his death.
The attorney for the Zuniga family stated “Safeway put production and profit over the protection of its workers, Tragically, the Zuniga family was forced to pay the ultimate price for Safeway’s misguided priorities.” Pedro Zuniga was 52 and worked in the distribution center for over 22 years when he died in April 2020. It was just three days after his death when Governor Newsom called attention to the Tracy distribution center, noting 51 employees testing positive. The lawsuit was filed in Alameda County because Safeway’s headquarters are in Pleasanton.
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