Workers are on strike at a Burger King in Santa Monica, California, after a transgender woman died from COVID-19. Angela Martinez Gómez, a 15-year employee of the company, worked for a week with severe symptoms and now at least one other employee is infected.
Even worse, workers at the location say management blamed Martinez’s death on “injecting hormones.” They say no other employees have been quarantined, the store hasn’t closed for deep cleaning, and management has allowed another worker showing symptoms to continue on the job.
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The workers allege that the company has not taken the coronavirus pandemic seriously and have filed a complaint with state and local authorities. Now they’re worried the burger chain will retaliate against them for blowing the whistle.
Martinez died a week after working her last shift. She left work early because she was sick.
Yolanda Santiago Garcia, who is diabetic, filed the complaints, saying the company has violated state and local health orders. She says another worker, identified as Mariela, has also continued to work despite showing the same symptoms as Martinez.
“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 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.”
Garcia also said she is concerned that management will retaliate against her for blowing the whistle on the “dangerous” working conditions and “very worried” about her own health after developing headaches, fever, and difficulty breathing.
“I am worried about my health and my family’s health; eight of us live together, and my brother and I both have diabetes,” she said in the complaint. “Last week I visited my grandchildren, and now I do not know if I have COVID-19, or if I gave it to them.”
Employees held a vigil outside of the fast food location, holding signs that said “Say her name” and “Trans Lives Matter.” Video posted online show cars lined up outside of the restaurant as protestors social distanced and passersby honked in support.
Workers have asked the company to close the restaurant, quarantine all current employees with pay, and provide adequate protection for workers after reopening. Garcia wants the state to “to take all appropriate steps to hold Burger King accountable for the dangerous and deadly conditions it has demanded that we work in.”
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Angela Martinez Gómez, who had worked at Burger King for more than fifteen years,” a Burger King spokesperson said in a statement to KTLA News. “The restaurant will undergo a deep disinfection this evening.”
The company did not pledge to fulfill the employee’s request. The store will reopen the next day.
BREAKING: @BurgerKing workers are ON STRIKE after Angela Martinez Gómez, a trans co-worker, died after working with COVID-19 symptoms
BK denied Angela died of COVID, despite having symptoms.
— Fight for $15 LA (@Fightfor15LA) July 10, 2020