- Workers at a Santa Monica Burger King went on strike this week after Angela Martinez Gómez, a transgender colleague of theirs, died from COVID-19, reported KTLA.
- One employee filed a complaint with the Los Angeles Department of Health about the health precautions at the location that might have led to Gómez’s death.
- The complaint also stated that a manager blamed Gómez’s death on “injecting hormones,” referring to hormone replacement therapy, which has not been linked to increasing a risk of COVID-19.
- Estrogen, a hormone typically prescribed to transwomen, was being tested on cisgender men as a possible way to lessen to effects of COVID-19.
- “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,” a Burger King spokesperson told Insider.
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Employees of a Santa Monica Burger King have gone on strike this week and filed a complaint with both Los Angeles health officials and the state of California after their colleague died of COVID-19.
Angela Martinez Gómez, a transgender employee at the fast food restaurant, died on July 6, reported KTLA.
The complaint, filed by another employee, Yolanda Santiago Garcia, which was obtained by KTLA, states that a manager allowed Gómez to keep working for a week after showing “severe” symptoms like coughing and nausea.
Garcia’s complaint also said that a manager blamed Gómez’s death on “injecting hormones,” referring to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), a common treatment prescribed to trans people to help with gender dysphoria or when a person feels as if their body doesn’t match their gender identity.
In protest, Garcia and other Burger King workers refused to work, instead staging a demonstration outside the diner over the weekend.
One employee filed a complaint describing ‘dangerous’ working conditions
Garcia’s complaint featured a list of accusations describing “dangerous” conditions at the Burger King on 1919 Pico Blvd. According to KTLA, the list included: “Infrequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces, lack of face masks and lax enforcement of social distancing.”
Gómez went home sick on June 29, and died a week later. According to Garcia, at least one other coworker has come down with coronavirus symptoms since Gomez left her last shift.
“Burger King has kept us in the dark and our lives and our families are at risk,” Garcia says in the report. “Angela had COVID-19 symptoms at work, but Burger King blamed her [gender identity] 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.”
In a statement sent to Insider, a Burger King spokesperson said: “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 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.”
There is no evidence injected hormones are linked to worse coronavirus symptoms
At the silent demonstration in front of the Burger King, demonstrators held signs that said in Spanish: “Say her name, Angela Martinez Gómez, a trans woman, died after showing symptoms of COVID-19 at work. Burger King blamed her death on hormone injections without evidence.”
There is no evidence to suggest that taking HRT is in any way linked to developing worse coronavirus symptoms. Estrogen – which is typically prescribed to transwomen and femmes – is even being studied as a possible way to lessen the effects of COVID-19 on cisgender men.
“There are no data that transgender people taking hormone treatment have greater risk of COVID-19 related to their medication,” Dr. Joshua Safer, spokesperson of the Endocrine Society and Executive Director of the Centre for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at the Mount Sinai Health System, told Insider.
“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,” a Burger King spokesperson told Insider. “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. Our deepest condolences go out to Angela’s family and friends during this devastating time.”