Burger King workers stage strike after trans co-worker dies while working with COVID-19 symptoms

Protesters packed the drive-thru Burger King in Santa Monica, California, following the death of a trans staffer. (Twitter)

Burger King employees staged a strike and filed a complaint with the California state and county regulators Friday (July 10) after a trans co-worker allegedly died of complications caused by coronavirus.

Staffers at the Santa Monica fast food restaurant retaliated after Angela Martinez Gómez died after being reportedly made to work a week even while displaying symptoms. Picketers, as well as the complaint, claimed that the company did not provide staff with protective gear.

One manager at the branch at 1919 Pico Boulevard allegedly blamed the death of Gómez, 42, of Oaxaca, Mexico, on hormone injections, KTLA5 reported.

Managers made Gómez carry on working for a week even while she spluttered, took frequent bathroom breaks and was visibly ill, the complaint said, before leaving her June 26 shift early.

She had been self-medicating on cold medicine up until her death. Gómez died July 6.

A Burger King spokesperson stressed to PinkNews that Gómez “no [COVID-19] symptoms” were reported by the team at the time. They added that the corporation is conducting an investigation into the transphobic comments alleged.

After trans Burger King employee died of COVID-19, management allegedly tried to sweep it under as her hormones treatments.

Moreover, the complaint stated that a second employee began to flare with symptoms but was, nevertheless, asked to come into work.

A third employee, Yolanda Garcia, who filed the complaint, alleged that she is the third employee to show symptoms. She claimed that seniors did not supply fresh masks for each shift, do not implement physical distancing requirements in the kitchen and that the site is not cleaned properly.

Burger King staffers are calling on the restaurant to be immediately shuttered, all workers be quarantined with pay and the company be held accountable for the “dangerous and deadly conditions” workers have suffered.

The complaint filed to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and also sent to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

The strike saw roads jammed with cars, clogging access to the restaurant. Vehicles honked horns and were emblazoned with trans Pride flag signs that read: “Say her name, Angela Martinez Gómez, a trans woman died after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 at work.

“Burger King blamed her death on hormone injections without evidence.”

Wearing her striped polo shirt and a face mask clinging to her face, Yolanda Santiago spoke to the Los Angeles wing of Fight for $15, which works with fast-food employees to advocate a higher minimum wage.

She told members how she, being a diabetic, being made to work on the frontline in what, workers have claimed, are inadequate conditions has plunged her into unease every time she clocks-in.

“A couple days ago,” she said, “[Angela Martinez Gómez] died and had symptoms of coronavirus.

“[Burger King] has done nothing to protect us. I am diabetic and fear for my health and my family.”

A Burger King representative told PinkNews: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of Angela Martinez Gómez, who had worked at Burger King for more than fifteen years.

“Burger King deeply values diversity, equality and the safety and fair treatment of our team members and guests.

“We are investigating the report that transphobic comments were made. They do not align with our values and are unacceptable.

“Creating an inclusive and welcoming environment is a priority for us and we will be sure to take swift action in this case.

“Burger King restaurants follow rigorous precautions to keep team members and guests safe at all times. We have not received any news or confirmation that Angela’s tragic death was associated with Covid-19. No symptoms were reported by the team at that location.

“Our deepest condolences go out to Angela’s family and friends during this devastating time.”