Workers at a Burger King in Santa Monica plan to hold a silent protest at noon Friday to demand better safety procedures from their employer after one of their coworkers died while showing “severe symptoms” of COVID-19.
An employee at the Burger King, where the protest is being held at 1919 Pico Blvd., filed a complaint Thursday with the County Department of Public Health and the local CalOSHA division demanding the fast-food restaurant be closed until it can ensure a safer working environment during the pandemic.
According to the complaint obtained by City News Service, Angela Martinez, 41, a transgender woman, died Monday at her home after working at least a week at the Burger King with a bad cough, high fever and other symptoms that could have been related to COVID-19.
“My coworkers and I work at Burger King in Santa Monica and we are writing to seek immediate action from the health department to close the restaurant we work at, to require that our employer quarantine all employees with pay, to ensure that when the location reopens it is a safer place to work and eat and to take all appropriate steps to hold Burger King accountable for the dangerous and deadly conditions it has demanded that we work in,” said Yolanda Santiago Garcia, who filed the complaint.
Garcia, who said she has worked at the Burger King for nine years, said she and another coworker are now experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19, which she described as having chills, shaking, coughing and difficulty breathing.
Efforts to obtain comment from Burger King were unavailing.
“Burger King is putting our lives and the lives of our coworkers, our families and our community at risk by having workers with obvious known COVID-19 symptoms work sick,” Garcia said.
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s website confirmed Martinez died Monday and said a cause-of-death finding has been deferred pending additional investigation. It has not yet been confirmed whether Martinez had COVID-19.
The complaint also alleges a manager told employees Martinez died from “injecting hormones” as part of her transition.
Managers let Martinez work as recently as June 29, even though she was visibly sick and was seen taking cold medicine at work, according to the complaint, and on June 29 Martinez left her shift early, saying she could not continue to work.
The complaint says the Burger King workers are not provided fresh masks each shift, they work closely together without social distancing protocols and without a plan or training on how to do the work while social distancing.
The employees also said there is a lack of cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as headsets and the bathroom, which is only cleaned at night.
Garcia said several workers walked out of fear for their safety on Monday after learning of Martinez’ death.
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