Phone company suspends worker for using work equipment to rescue cat

Phone company Verizon experienced a backlash after they suspended one of their employees for using work equipment to rescue a cat stuck on a pole.

The distraught cat owner had called the fire department, the animal rescue, and other organizations for help, but was unsuccessful. Princess Momma, the cat, somehow got atop the telephone pole and had been stuck there for 12 hours. The owners and their neighbors tried to rescue the cat themselves before calling for help but to no avail.

Princess Momma has been stuck on the telephone pole for 12 hours
Princess Momma, the cat, has been stuck on the telephone pole for 12 hours.

Maurice German, the Verizon employee, was working nearby in Port Richmond, Pennsylvania when he responded to pleas to help the scared kitty.

With the use of Verizon’s “bucket” truck hydraulic lift, German reached the top of the pole and carefully got hold of the frightened kitty, who at first seemed hesitant but eventually let the man get her.

Everyone in the community and those who saw the video online seemed to praise German for his good deed, except for one – his own employer, Verizon. The company suspended him for three weeks without pay because he violated their safety rules.

Maurice German rescuing Princess Momma the cat
Maurice German rescuing Princess Momma the cat. (Amanda Boyce)

A Verizon representative told CBS MoneyWatch:

“For safety reasons, our trucks and related equipment are not intended to be used in the area in which he was operating, specifically around electrical wires. While our actions may not be popular, he potentially put his life and those around him in jeopardy.”

The company said that it had made a donation to the Pennsylvania Animal Rescue & Protection to show its support for animal rescue groups.

This move, however, didn’t seem to appease the customers and animal lovers on social media, as Verizon continued to receive hate online for their decision to punish the well-meaning worker.

Verizon employee Maurice German who got suspended for using work equipment to rescue cat stuck on a pole
Verizon employee Maurice German who got suspended for using work equipment to rescue cat stuck on a pole. (Source: GoFundMe)

In response to German’s suspension, the people who were touched by his act of goodwill rallied around him to show their support.

One of the neighbors, Amanda Fairchild Boyce, was worried that German might lose his job. So she shared the situation on her Facebook and encouraged other people to spread it to show their support for the employee.

Amanda Fairchild Boyce's Facebook post on Maurice German's situation
Source: Facebook

Verizon’s Chief Communications Officer, Jim Gerace, responded to Boyce in the comments section:

Verizon's Chief Communications Officer Jim Gerace's response to Amanda Boyce
Source: Facebook

The story gained traction, and one of the people in the community started a GoFundMe to compensate German for his three weeks without pay. The $2,400 goal has been exceeded in just 4 days and grew to $3,395. Another one set up by German’s co-worker exceeded its $4,000 goal and ended up raising $7,210. Donations for both have already been closed.

Watch the news report below from WPVI-TV regarding this story.