MPP to push for law to prevent ‘gas and dash’ incidents
In this undated photo Jayesh Prajapati is seen with his wife and son. Prajapati died in Toronto after trying to stop a driver from fleeing from a gas station with stolen gas on Sept. 15, 2012. (Photo courtesy: Prajapati family friend)
Published Wednesday, September 19, 2012 3:50PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 19, 2012 9:50PM EDT
The provincial Ministry of Labour is now investigating the Toronto gas station where an attendant was killed over the weekend, after being hit by a driver who was allegedly trying to leave without paying for gas.
Minister of Labour Linda Jeffrey said that her office has launched a health and safety investigation and wants to know if the station in question has violated any employment standards.
"We owe it to the family to take a long, hard look at what lessons we might draw from this incident," Jeffrey told the legislature.
Jeffrey stressed to the provincial legislature that it is illegal for an employer to dock an employee’s wages if something is lost or stolen during their shift.
"Let me be clear: the Employment Standards Act states it is illegal for an employer to dock an employee's wages for the company's lost or stolen property," she said. "That means that if a patron at a gas station gases and dashes, the employee cannot be docked wages for the loss to the company."
Station attendant Jayesh Prajapati, 44, was killed Saturday night after attempting to stop a driver from fleeing with $112 worth of gas. Police said he was hit and dragged by a vehicle.
Prajapati worked at a Shell gas station located at the intersection of Marlee and Roselawn Avenues, west of Allen Road.
Shell Canada has stated that their company rules forbid workers from intervening in gas-and-dash incidents.
However Prajapati’s friends allege the rules are not enforced and his wages had been docked in the past.
The NDP said that the current law is not being enforced strongly enough. They said they are also concerned that many workers are not fully aware of their rights.
"This is not the first situation in this particular industry," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.
In 2011 attendant Atifeh Rad lost his life at a Petro Canada station in Mississauga when he was dragged by a motorist who was fleeing with stolen gas.
Liberal MPP Mike Colle is set to introduce a private member’s bill on Thursday which he believes will stop gas theft by forcing drivers to prepay before the pump gas. The bill will be called “Jayesh’s Law.”
But the Minister of Labour said a probe into the 2011 incident found that forcing motorists to prepay for gas was scorned by the industry.
"What we learned from that was there are significant concerns from stakeholders about the feasibility of the pay-at-the-pump laws," she said. "Other jurisdictions have not seen the expected results or uptake after passing the legislation."
Prepayment at gas stations became mandatory in British Columbia after a man was dragged to death while trying to stop a $12 gas and dash.in 2008.
The practice is also common in parts of the U.S.
Jeffrey said she encourages any worker who feels their employer has docked their wages unfairly to make a claim with the ministry.
Police have issued a warrant for 39-year-old Max Edwin Tutiven, who faces a charge of second-degree murder. They are urging Tutiven to turn himself in.
With files from The Canadian Press