A former gas station attendant told CBC News she was given a simple choice after a customer fled without paying for $65 in gas: Pay back the money or you’re fired.
It happened in April while Deborah Pommer worked the till at a gas bar in southwestern Ontario. She doesn’t want to say which gas bar because the Ontario's labour ministry is investigating.
Pommer told CBC News that a customer distracted her with a dispute over the price of chocolate bars while someone else filled up their tank and took off.
Pommer says her employer reviewed the tape and told her she would have to pay for the stolen gas herself.
"He said either I pay the $65 and continue working or I could chose to not pay the $65 I was done," she told CBC News.
"I felt very manipulated," she told CBC News. "I felt fearful. I was shaking. To be put on the spot like that it's very difficult especially when it's your livelihood. You rely on your income. I felt really intimidated."
Pommer said she had only been on the job for five weeks and had been forced to pay for an earlier gas and dash out of her own pocket.
After the April incident, she decided to hand in her keys and is now out of a job.
Toronto attendant's death prompted her to speak
Pommer decided to speak out after hearing about Jayesh Prajapati, a Toronto gas station attendant who was run over and killed Saturday while trying to stop a customer from stealing $112 in gas. Police are seeking a suspect in the case.
"When I heard about the gentleman and Toronto I felt the need to share my story," said Pommer. "This has got to stop. It happens more frequently than the general public realizes."
Prajapati’s death has prompted an Ontario MPP to put forward a private member’s bill Thursday that would require drivers to prepay for their gas. The province's labour minister has said it's illegal for employers to make employees pay for stolen gas.
Dave Bryans, of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association says many family-run stores can’t afford to convert their pumps to handle pre-pay transactions.