Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

When work puts you in the line of fire

Front-desk clerks, gas jockeys at risk for violent attacks

  • Print

Having two disguised men threaten your staff with a gun and hit them with a hammer served as a wake-up call.

But Gil Gauthier, owner of the Norvilla Motor Hotel, knows an armed robbery early one morning last August could have been much worse for the cleaner and desk clerk on duty at the time.

Gauthier said the crime led the Henderson Highway hotel to make security changes to an alarm the clerk carries, so he's "wired up." The hotel also adopted a policy to keep doors locked in the early-morning hours, and it changed how much cash is around at night.

"It really hurts when you come to work and you know that your employee who is taking care of your business gets held up and gets knocked over the head with a hammer and a gun gets pulled on him," he said. "It gets you thinking about how you're going to protect your employees better."

From 2006 to 2010, service workers such as cashiers, bartenders, janitors and light-duty cleaners all have taken time off work due to injuries from assaults and violence, according to statistics from the Workers Compensation Board. That also extends to workers such as cooks, delivery and courier drivers, grocery store clerks and stockers.

This is the fourth and final piece in a Free Press series looking at how violence impacts workers in areas such as health care, education and public safety and security.

Gauthier said the clerk, a longtime employee, was back at work the next day.

He's grateful neither man was seriously hurt. "Out of that particular event, we got off lucky," said Gauthier. "(The thieves) could have shot these two guys, no doubt about it."

The two thieves, who wore balaclavas, got away with cash.

He said the money is what put the clerk at risk. The cleaner was "at the wrong spot" when the robbery happened, he said, and was alerted to what happened while he tidied up the bar.

"The desk clerk is handling 7-Elevens, gas stations, gas bars, whenever there's that cash element, they're at risk," he said. The thieves haven't been arrested to this day, as far as Gauthier knows.

But there's been a lasting lesson.

"If you see somebody that you suspect is up to no good, just call the police or press the panic button and that'll fire up the alarms," said Gauthier.

Danger pay:

The fourth in a Free Press series on violence at work focuses on employees in the service industry. The following statistics show the number of employees who reported being victims of violence in a four-year period:


Retail salespersons and sales clerks: 20

Retail trade managers: 7

Cashiers: 7

Light-duty cleaners: 6

Hotel front-desk clerks: 6

Bartenders: 5

Janitors, caretakers and building superintendents: 5

Grocery clerks and store-shelf stockers: 5

Cooks: 4

Other selected occupations: Journalist (1), funeral director/embalmer (1), psychologist (1)


-- Source: Workers Compensation Board statistics on people who lost time at work due to assaults or violent acts, from 2006 to 2010

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 7, 2011 B3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Winnipeg Jet goalie Michael Hutchinson

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • An American White Pelican takes flight from the banks of the Red River in Lockport, MB. A group of pelicans is referred to as a ‘pod’ and the American White Pelican is the only pelican species to have a horn on its bill. May 16, 2012. SARAH O. SWENSON / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Should the federal government be able to censor how Ottawa is portrayed in the CMHR?

View Results

Ads by Google