The recent minimizing of night-worker rules -- known as Grant's Law -- for Maple Ridge gas-bar worker Grant de Patie, who was killed in 2005 trying to stop a gas-and-dash by Darnell Pratt, is again being brought to attention, after a brazen attempt to rob a Subway employee.
A man who helped foil a robbery at a Vancouver fast-food outlet staffed by a female worker says retail employees shouldn't be working alone in off-hours, and labour advocates agree.
Frank Simchak was working on a construction site near a Subway restaurant in the 100-block West Hastings Street on Monday and was using their washroom when a man came in and robbed the till just before 8 a.m.
Simchak rushed out to see the worker shaking and in tears. He chased down the suspect on the street, punching him out and holding him until police arrived.
James Frederick Escher, 46, of no fixed address, was charged with one count of robbery. He had just finished serving a 30-month sentence for robbery in Kelowna.
Simchak said he was shocked to see the very same employee on shift alone the next day.
"We always see shady individuals walking into the place and there is only ever one small female employee working alone early in the morning. I wouldn't want to work alone in that neighbourhood," said Simchak, who is a 6-foot-4, 250-pound trained martial artist. "I would like to see at least one more person in there, as just a simple deterrent."
The Subway franchisee wasn't available for comment Thursday.
According to WorkSafe B.C. rules, retail employers are only required to have two employees on shift overnight between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The agency's occupational health and safety rules require any retail location open to the public for "late-night hours" to implement precautions.
Among them, businesses must either ensure that the worker is physically separated from the public by a locked door or barrier or assign one or more additional employees to work at the same time.
The employees must also be over 19 years of age.
Jim Sinclair of the B.C. Federation of Labour said employees need better protection than that, especially as these WorkSafe B.C. rules were later "watered down."
Grant's Law, named after Maple Ridge gas-bar worker Grant de Patie, who was killed in 2005 trying to stop a gas-and-dash, now allow an employer to put in a camera and panic button instead of barriers or extra employees.
"The bottom line is, if you want a 24/7 society, if you want to sell sandwiches at midnight or cigarettes at three in the morning, that's fine," Sinclair said. "But you have to take the steps to protect people at three in the morning, and it's a different world at three in the morning than it is at three in the afternoon."
Meanwhile, a lone female employee at a Subway restaurant in Coquitlam was also held up at gunpoint this week. O n Wednesday, just after 9: 30 p.m., a man robbed the Clarke Road restaurant and fled. The employee wasn't hurt.
Coquitlam Const. Michelle Luca said the city has suffered a rash of mostly lone-employee retail robberies in August in the Austin Heights neighbourhood, and added police are probing links with the latest holdup.
- Elaine O'Connor is a reporter for The Province