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Burger King Staff Strike When Trans Colleague Dies After Being Made to Work With Covid-19

Illustration for article titled Burger King Staff Strike When Trans Colleague Dies After Being Made to Work With Covid-19
Image: Dave Rowland/Getty Images (Getty Images)

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.

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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.”

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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.

Night blogger, author of GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TO PEOPLE YOU HATE.

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DISCUSSION

This is a tragic, infuriating disaster. I hope they bring BK to a screeching halt and shame them into improving conditions for their employees, and compensating Gomez’ family.

I once had the (dis)honor of dining with a McDonalds franchise magnate of sorts...from Arkansas, and he lamented out loud that the state mandated that each of his employees received 2 sick days, as if it irreparably harmed his bottom line. I girded my mental for whatever wordvomit he would spout to justify the beforetimes when they had zero sick leave, and it was as convoluted as you’d imagine.

He then went on to ask, “Can you believe that they actually USED those sick days!?” Poor schmuck actually was baffled. He at least had the decency not to mention Trump at the dinner table, but whewww was I uncomfortable.

If the coronavirus has shown us anything, it is that the people at the bottom of the economic rungs here are what keeps the country moving, and it sickens me that we are attempting to gimp along without properly taking care of them, half-hoping that the virus will disappear before we have to reckon with actually taking care of the people who got us through this global disaster.