Employees at a Santa Monica Burger King staged a protest on Friday after a coworker reportedly died from complications of covid-19. The employees say their coworker, Angela Martinez Gómez, was made to work even though she displayed symptoms. Martinez was transgender, and employees allege that management blamed her death on hormone injections, in an ostensible effort to shirk responsibility. One employee has filed a complaint with the state and the county.
KTLA reports that Martinez worked at the Burger King establishment for a full week while exhibiting “severe” symptoms of covid-19. According. to the complaint, filed by employee Yolanda Santiago Garcia, Martinez was coughing, nauseated, and “running to the restroom a lot,” but managers still made her work. She stopped coming to work at the end of June and died on July 6.
Employees say management has not said anything to them about possible exposure to the virus, even though other employees are now reportedly exhibiting symptoms. Moreover, management made transphobic comments in attributing Martinez’s death to hormone treatments, per the complaint:
“Burger King has kept us in the dark and our lives and our families are at risk. Burger King has not told us there are COVID-19 cases or suspected cases at the store and they are not being honest about what happened with Angela and Mariela,” Garcia says in a statement in the complaint.
“Angela had COVID-19 symptoms at work, but Burger King blamed her sexuality instead of COVID-19 as the cause of her death. Angela was a transgender woman, and management said she died, ‘from injecting hormones’ … that doesn’t make sense to me.”
On Friday, employees went on strike and held a protest outside the Burger King:
The company told KTLA in a statement that they were “deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Angela Martinez Gómez” and that the restaurant would undergo a deep cleaning.