JAYESH’S LAW (WORKER SAFETY AT SERVICE STATIONS), 2012

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On Saturday, September 15, 2012, at 9:05 p.m., police responded to an unknown trouble call on Marlee Avenue, at Roselawn Avenue in Toronto.   On the northeast corner of Marlee Avenue and Roselawn Avenue there is a ShellCanada gas station (see above).

The call concerned a service station attendant that had been struck by a four-door sport utility (a 2000−2003, silver or beige, four−door Isuzu Rodeo) exiting the station, driven by the man who filled up his vehicle and two plastic gas cans and exited the station without paying the $112.85 fuel bill.

The service attendant, 44-year-old Jayesh Prajapati, attempted to stop the vehicle and was struck down and dragged by the vehicle, as the vehicle turned onto Roselawn Avenue.   Mr. Prajapati was seriously injured and taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.  He later died and a post-mortem examination determined the cause of the death to be as a result of “multiple blunt force trauma injuries”. Last year, a 62-year-old gas attendant Hashem Atifeh Rad, in Mississauga died after trying to stop a fleeing gas thief.

Initially police treated the investigation as a vehicular homicide.  On Sunday, September 16, 2012 police decided that this was a suspicious death investigation and assigned members of the Homicide Squad to this investigation.

Police report that the person of interest in this criminal offence is 39-year-old Max Edwin Tutiven of Toronto.  He is described as white with a dark complexion, 5’5″, 220-230 lbs,. with dark hair.  Max Edwin Tutiven also faces two outstanding warrants for gas theft in Toronto issued this year and a third in Montreal. Police think he may have travelled to Montreal.  Police are considering charging Tutiven with the second-degree murder of Jayesh Prajapati under the Criminal Code and have issued a Canada-wide warrant for Max Edwin’s Tutiven’s arrest.

Who was Jayesh Prajapati?

Jayesh Prajapati with his wife Vaishal and only son, Rishabh.

He was a hard working family man, struggling to look after his family and to improve their quality of life.

He married his wife, Vaishali Prajapati fifteen (15) years ago and they had their son, Rishabh Prajapati four (4) years later.

He came to Canada in 2006 from India with his wife and five (5) year old son, Rishabh.

Jayesh was an educated man and as a chemist, earned his master’s degree.

As many newcomers experience, his credentials could not secure him a good-paying job in Canada.  Instead, he accepted a job at a Shell gas station (employees that work in these jobs, are often paid at minimum wage or slightly above that). He worked full-time at the Shell station at Roselawn & Marlee Avenues, Monday to Saturday.

He lived with his son and wife in a high-rise apartment complex in Etobicoke, living in a modest one bedroom apartment.  Jayesh slept on a small mattress in the living room and his wife and his eleven (11) year old son occupied the bedroom.

He was a hard working and kind man and was well liked by customers and area residents.

After he passed away, 150 people (family, area residents and friends) came out on Monday night (September 17, 2012) to hold a candlelight vigil and to say prayers near the location that his body was discovered after he was dragged by the vehicle, driven by the man that police suspect, exited the Shell station without paying for the gas he took.

Why did Jayesh Prajapati try to stop vehicle that contained the gas thief?

Jayest Prajapati worked for his boss, Maz Alibhai,  for a number of years, until his sudden and unexpected death.

The Roselawn & Marlee Avenues Toronto Shell Station owner-manager Maz Alibhai said on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 that  his employees don’t have to pay for the cost of stolen gas. He said he takes care of those costs.

“Employees are asked to try to write down the licence plate number of the fleeing vehicle, call police and file a report about what happened, but have clear instructions never to run after a fleeing vehicle”, Alibhai added.

What has emerged however is that Jayesh Prajapti told his wife and friends that he was required to pay for half or 50% of the loss of a gas-and-dash.  It should be emphasized that gas attendants who work for oil company retail stores or gas stations, normally make minimum wage; minimum wage in Ontario sits at $10.25 per hour.

If the gas thief drove away, neglecting to pay the $112.85 bill, then that would mean that Jayest Prajapti would have to turn over $56.00 (out of his eight (8) hours earnings of his gross earnings of $82.00 – which would be approximately 6 hours of his 8 hours pay) to his boss, Maz Alibhai.

Friends and family of Jayesh Prajapati say that he told them he had to pay for the cost of stolen gas out of his own pocket.

The station owner, Maz Alibhai,  however, says that is not his policy.

Apurva Patel said he grew up in the same neighbourhood in India as Jayesh Prajapati and they remained friends after moving to Canada.

When Patel asked his friend who paid for fuel stolen fuel in “gas and dash” incidents, he said Jayesh Prajapati told him the money came from his own pocket.

Because he needed the job, Jayesh Prajapati said he accepted paying for the stolen gas as part of being in the business and didn’t feel like he could complain to anyone, Patel said.

“You are in a bad situation. There is no other avenue. You have to work there.”

Jayesh Prajapati’s wife, Vaishali, explained through a translator that her husband told her 50 per cent of the cost of stolen gas was deducted from his wages, something she said was “annoying.”

Marsha Sands lives across the street from the gas station Prajapati worked at. She said she often chatted with him when visiting to fill up.

A couple months before his death, Sands said Prajapati told her he was frustrated with people filling up and driving away without paying. She said he told her the money came out of his own pocket.

“He said, ‘I have lost so much money in the last couple of months … and it’s getting really hard for me.’ ”

Requiring an employee to pay for gas someone else stole would violate section 13.5 of the province’s Employment Standards Act, Ministry of Labour spokesman Bill Killorn said. The ministry is looking into whether to launch an investigation in light of the allegations, he added.

What does Shell Canada have to say about this?

A statement released by Shell Canada on Tuesday explains that retailers have a contract with Shell sites to operate and retailers “own the relationship with the staff that work at those sites.” Shell doesn’t control “terms of employment” between retailers and those employees, except that they must “comply with all laws and regulations.”

“We do not endorse or support any practice that contravenes (the Ontario Employment Standards Act),” the statement says.

“Today we have reminded our operators that it is illegal to charge sales associates for drive-aways, and that there will continue to be ZERO tolerance for this in the Shell network.”

The company is conducting “a full investigation” in light of Prajapati’s death.

“We will ensure that any lessons from this extremely sad incident are incorporated into ways of doing business within the Shell network for the future.”

Is Shell Canada Offering to Pay for the Funeral Costs?

No, but they will set up a trust fund for others to contribute to.

A trust fund has been set up for the victim’s family with the donation information provided below:

Jayesh Prajapati in Trust
CIBC – 89 Humber College Blvd.
Transit Number 01122
Account 8220433, Institution 010

Shell has enjoyed record profits recently, this is how they did in 2011, according to their Chief Executive Officer.

Shell Annual Report and Form 20-F 2011
Chief Executive Officer’s review

Financial results
Our earnings on a current cost of supplies basis attributable to shareholders were approximately $29 billion, up 54% from 2010.  Assisted by higher oil prices and asset sales, both the Upstream and Downstream segments generated a cash surplus. This accomplishment came despite low North American natural gas prices and thin refining margins. Excluding working capital movements, cash flow from operational activities amounted to $43 billion – 30% more than in 2010 and 82% more than in 2009.

We announced dividends for the year totalling more than $10 billion, and we are in a position to increase them for the first quarter of 2012.

Over the past three years, our shareholders have enjoyed a total return of about 70%.

In 2011, we also made good progress in reshaping our portfolio to support further growth.We received some $7.5 billion in proceeds from the sale of non-core businesses.s

How has the Provincial government reacted to this tragedy?

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says his government has a “shared responsibility” to look at how to make gas stations safer workplaces after a “gas and dash” left 44-year-old attendant Jayesh Prajapati dead.

“One of the things that we owe that family and that gentleman in particular is to take a long, hard look at what lessons we might draw from this,” McGuinty told reporters.

Liberal MPP Mike Colle (Eglinton-Lawrence) has taken the lead on the issue and said he’ll push for legislative remedies if oil and gas companies don’t make changes.

“It’s not too much to ask to stop this kind of craziness from happening again.”

Colle supports a mandatory pre-pay pump system, as has been implemented in British Columbia, to stop people from stealing gas.

Mike Colle introduced a private bill in Queen’s Park, referred to as Jayesh’s Law (Worker Safety at Service Stations), 2012 (Bill 124, 2012) on September 20, 2012 where it received its first reading.  It must receive a second and third reading and royal assent before it becomes law. See the wording of Jayesh’s Law at the bottom of this post.

The Ministry of Labour has 140 inspectors in enforcement standards offices across the province, with a dedicated team of 30 to do proactive inspections, while the rest deal with complaints.

On Monday, September 17, 2012  the Ministry of Labour announced it will spend another $3 million to hire 18 more enforcement officers over the next two (2) years.

The Ministry of Labour has launched an investigation into Prajapati’s death, which is routine whenever there is a workplace fatality, and also to probe allegations made by his relatives and friends that his wages were deducted to pay for gas-and-dash thefts.

“There were rumours and claims that the employee was having deductions from his wages for stolen gas and that is illegal under Section 13 of the Employment Standards Act,” said Matt Blajer, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour.

“Even with written authorization, an employer is not allowed to make deductions for faulty work, cash shortages, lost or stolen property where the employee did not have sole access or total control over the cash or property that’s lost or stolen. In this case, he didn’t have sole access, because the person could pump the gas himself.”

Do other Provinces or States have a pre-paid gas at the pump practice in place currently?

Yes.  Anyone that has driven through the United States is aware that most States already have this in place at gas stations.

Toronto already has it in place in many gas stations for commercial vehicles and corporations filling up.

Grant de Patie, a 25-year-old gas station attendant, was killed in 2005 when a teenage driver refused to pay $12.30 for gas in Maple Ridge, B.C. His death prompted Grant’s Law, a provincial law that implemented the pay-before-you-pump system at all British Columbia gas stations.

Jimmy Wiebe, 50, was shot during a night-time robbery while working alone at a Shell station in Yorkton, Saskatchewan in 2011. The province is considering passing Bill 601,The Jimmy’s Law Act to protect workers in such situations. Bill 601, The Jimmy’s Law Act would mandate retail businesses to have at least two workers scheduled between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. or protect an individual worker behind a locked door or barrier.

There were about 1,500 gas-and-dash occurrences in the Greater Toronto Area last year, though the vast majority go unreported.

Has anyone else weighed in on this tragedy?

The Ontario Federation of Labour has responded by setting up a phone-in hotline.

The OFL’s Bad Gas Rip-Off Hotline is at 1-800-668-9138 and was set up to receive anonymous tips on franchise owners and companies. It allows workers to report when they feel their bosses are breaking Ontario employment laws.

“The (hotline) is going to help the little guy push back against wage theft by Canada’s big oil companies,” said OFL President Sid Ryan.  Ryan added. “If gas companies are telling employees not to intervene in criminal activities then they can’t allow bosses to blame workers for customer theft and illegally dock wages. It renders the policy meaningless and puts tremendous pressure on minimum-wage workers to put their lives in harm’s way to protect their income.”

 

1ST SESSION, 40TH LEGISLATURE, ONTARIO
61 ELIZABETH II, 2012

Bill 124

An Act to amend various statutes with respect to worker safety at service stations

Mr. Colle

Private Member’s Bill

1st Reading September 20, 2012
2nd Reading
3rd Reading
Royal Assent

Printed by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario

EXPLANATORY NOTE

The Bill amends various Acts with respect to worker safety at service stations and other places that sell fuel at retail.

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 is amended to prohibit employers from penalizing employees if a fuel theft occurs while the employees are working.

The Highway Traffic Act is amended to provide that a person’s driver’s licence is suspended if the person is convicted for an offence involving the theft of fuel.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act is amended to require employers who engage in the business of selling fuel at service stations and other places that sell fuel at retail to require customers to provide payment before being given the fuel. The Act is also amended to require employers to provide training to employees involved in the sale of fuel at service stations and other places that sell fuel at retail.

Bill 124 2012

An Act to amend various statutes with respect to worker safety at service stations

Note: This Act amends or repeals more than one Act. For the legislative history of these Acts, see the Table of Consolidated Public Statutes – Detailed Legislative History at www.e-Laws.gov.on.ca.

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS ACT, 2000

1. Part XVIII of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 is amended by adding the following section:

Reprisal, Fuel Theft
74.0.1 (1) No employer who engages in the businessof selling fuel at a service station or other place that sells fuel at retail or person acting on behalf of such an employer shall penalize an employee because of a fuel theft that occurs while the employee is working at the service station or other place that sells fuel at retail.

Same
(2) For greater certainty, penalizing an employee under subsection (1) includes withholding or deducting wages, reducing hours of work, and denying entitlement to over-time pay, benefits, vacation or any other entitlement under this Act.

2. The Act is amended by adding the following section:

Offences re: Fuel Theft
132.1 A person who contravenes subsection 74.0.1 (1) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable,

(a) if the person is an individual, to a fine of not more than $75,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than 12 months or to both;

(b) subject to clause (c), if the person is a corporation,to a fine of not more than $200,000; and

(c) if the person is a corporation that has previously been convicted of an offence under section 74.0.1,

(i) if the person has one previous conviction, to a fine of not more than $500,000, and

(ii) if the person has more than one previous conviction, to a fine of not more than $1,000,000.

HIGHWAY TRAFFIC ACT

3. Subsection 41 (1) of the Highway Traffic Act is amended by adding the following clause:

(c.1) under section 322 of the Criminal Code (Canada), if the thing that was taken or converted was fuel that was pumped directly from a pump at a service station or other place that sells fuel at retail into a motor vehicle within the meaning of this Act;

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT

4. The Occupational Health and Safety Act is amended by adding the following section:

Employers’ Duties, Service Stations

26.1 (1) An employer who engages in the business of selling fuel at a service station or other place that sells fuel at retail shall require customers to provide a credit card, debit card, cash or other method of payment before the customer is given fuel from a pump.

Training
(2) An employer shall provide training about worker safety in accordance with the prescribed requirements to employees involved in the sale of fuel from a pump at a service station or other place that sells fuel at retail.

5. Subsection 70 (2) of the Act is amended by adding the following paragraph:

31.2 prescribing, for the purpose of subsection 26.1 (2), requirements for the training that employers shall provide to employees involved in the sale of fuel from a pump at a service station or other place that sells fuel at retail, including when the employees must receive such training;

COMMENCEMENT AND SHORT TITLE

Commencement
6. (1) Subject to subsection (2), this Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.

Same
(2) Section 4 comes into force six months after the day this Act receives Royal Assent.

7. The short title of this Act is Jayesh’s Law (Worker Safety at Service Stations), 2012.

 

 

 

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