SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) — Burger King workers are speaking out against the employer after the death of a coworker who has worked at the company for more than 15 years.
A silent protest was planned on Friday afternoon at the Burger King located at 1919 Pico Boulevard, demanding the location closes temporarily for coronavirus safety. A complaint was also filed with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the local CalOSHA division.
An employee said in the complaint that longtime Burger King employee Angela Martinez Gómez died Monday at her home after suffering a bad cough, high fever and other symptoms. According to the complaint, other employees at this location also said they were experiencing possible coronavirus symptoms.
Additionally, the complaint said managers let Gómez work while she was showing symptoms of being ill, that workers are not provided fresh masks each shift, they work closely together without physical distancing protocols, and that there is a lack of cleaning of high-touch surfaces.
The complaint also says that a manager at the Burger King location told employees that Gómez, who is a transgender woman, died from “injecting hormones.”
Burger King said in a statement that it is investigating reports of “transphobic comments” being made and said it had not received any confirmation of coronavirus cases or reports of symptoms within that restaurant location.
The fast-food chain also said it has safety precautions in place to keep employees and customers safe.
“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,” the statement read. “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.”
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner said Gómez’s cause of death is being deferred pending further investigation. It has not yet been confirmed whether she had coronavirus.
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