Employees at a Burger King in Santa Monica, California are protesting the restaurant after their manager forced their now-deceased co-worker to continue working with COVID symptoms. Even worse? The manager blamed her death on her hormone therapy, rather than the illness.

Trans woman Angela Martinez Gómez had worked for Burger King for more than 15 years when she started exhibiting classic COVID symptoms in late June 2020. According to a complaint filed with California state and county regulators on Friday, Angela had a high fever, persistent coughing, and was taking frequent trips to the bathroom. And yet her managers forced her to continued to come to work.

During that time, fellow employees say the restaurant was not following any safety measures like social distancing, providing clean masks to employees, and ensuring proper sanitization of surfaces. It got so bad that some of her co-workers even started exhibiting possible COVID symptoms as well.

Angela continued to show up per her manager’s request and worked for about a week before she went home early from her shift on June 26, 2020. After self-medicating at home, Angela passed away on July 6, 2020.

burger king angela martinez gomez

Currently, the cause of death is still under investigation. Fellow employees are heartbroken by the loss of their friend and fearful for their own health after possibly being exposed to the virus.

In an attempt to mitigate employees’ fears of possible exposure, one of the managers (who hasn’t been named) assured everyone that Angela didn’t die from coronavirus — instead, they said she died as a result of her hormone injections.

Even if Angela’s death wasn’t a result of COVID-19, there is still a very long list of possible causes that should be considered. The fact that this manager went straight to blaming hormone therapy is problematic, to put it mildly.

After giving more than a decade of her life to her employer, Angela’s manager used her death and the fear of a global pandemic as an excuse to make a transphobic remark seem acceptable.

In response to all of the negative attention, Burger King released a statement offering condolences and saying they “deeply value diversity, equality, and the safety and fair treatment” of their employees and that they are “investigating the report that transphobic comments were made.”

One key thing that’s missing from Burger King’s statement is the assurance that this manager has been removed from their position while the investigation is underway.

Instead, the location is still open and operating with business as usual.

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