SANTA MONICA— Following the death of a Burger King employee, a co-worker filed a complaint with the county and state regarding the lack of COVID-19 safety precautions in the workplace.
Co-workers of Angela Martinez Gómez, who died on July 6, say in the weeks before her death, management allowed her to work while exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
According to the complaint, Martinez was allowed to work in the Burger King located on the 1900 block of Pico Boulevard for a full week before she left work to go home early on June 29. The report claims Martinez was visibly sick, coughing, and taking cold medicine at work. Yolanda Garcia, who filed the complaint, claims a manager attributed the death to Martinez’s hormone injections, as she is transgender.
The complaint, filed with both the L.A. County Department of Public Health and CAL/OSHA, alleges that the Burger King location does not enforce social distancing, provide personal protective equipment, or frequently clean high touch areas.
Garcia is calling for the immediate closure of the Burger King location, that employees be quarantined with pay, and for Burger King to be held accountable for the dangerous conditions forced to work in.
On Friday, July 10 workers held a silent protest in front of the Burger King location to honor Martinez. They held signs that read, “Say her name” and placed white roses on the ground as a memorial.
Garcia and another employee, Mariela, have since developed COVID-19 symptoms. The complaint alleges that Mariela was told to keep working despite having a high temperature. Additionally, the location was never closed for deep cleaning, nor were close contacts notified after Mariela and Garcia began experiencing symptoms.
In a statement about the complaint, Garcia said, “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.”
In a statement, Burger King wrote, “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Angela Martinez Gómez.” The restaurant announced a deep cleaning of the store and those that were in contact with Martinez are being instructed to quarantine.
Garcia wrote in the complaint, “I am worried about my health and my family’s health; eight of us live together, and my brother and I both have diabetes… Last week I visited my grandchildren, and now I do not know if I have COVID-19, or if I gave it to them.”
The L.A. County Medical Examiner Coroner’s Office has confirmed the death of Angela Martinez Gómez on Monday, July 6, but a cause of death has not yet been determined nor has it been confirmed if Gomez had COVID-19.