Furious Meadowhall staff fear being plunged into huge debts with some allegedly facing fines of as much as £18, 000 amid a row with bosses over parking.
Employees at the shopping centre have been prohibited from using the main car parks to free up more space for shoppers and ease congestion.
They are instead told to use a separate staff car park - but some workers have raised safety concerns about the 'poorly lit' site and claim it is based too far away from the shopping centre.
As a result some say they are forced to still park in customer spaces, but bosses at Meadowhall and CP Plus, which operates its car parks, are cracking down on the issue and have warned persistent offenders they face court action.
A whistle blower, who has worked at Meadowhall for nearly 10 years, has now lifted the lid on the extent of the problem, and claims:-
*Gangs are openly congregating to deal drugs in the staff car park
*Women fear they have been followed to their vehicles late at night
*Some staff have been bombarded with dozens of fines - totaling more than £18, 000 for some - and,
*Workers have felt so bad about the situation they have resigned.
A Rotherham mum-of-two, who works at the complex but did not want to be named, said: "It is getting out of control. I know of two colleagues who have parking fines for more than £18, 000 in total.
"There are hundreds of people who are getting fines. People fear they could be left with huge debts. It's ridiculous and completely unfair."
She told that she herself has received dozens of tickets over the last six months demanding she pay fines for parking in the customer section totaling around £5000.
But she added many are refusing to pay up because the staff car park near Tinsley Viaduct is simply not up to scratch.
She said: "The car park is poorly lit and I know of one woman who had to lie down in her car while a drug deal took place in front of her. She was terrified.
"You also have young women working until late at night walking back to their cars and on one occasion one of them said she was frightened to death when she saw a man staring at her.
"It is also too far away from the shopping centre. I know of people in their 60s, some with arthritis and hip replacements, where it takes them 20 minutes to walk it.
"The car park itself is also not big enough. Some people have had to park on residential streets and have received notes from people saying we shouldn't park there.
"Just this last week eight staff members and three managers have left, partly because of the parking issue.
She added: "We often feel we have no choice but to use customer parking.
"And are we not customers anyway? We work here but I bet we all spend thousands of pounds shopping in Meadowhall."
The whistle blower called for Meadowhall and parking bosses to extend the staff car park and improve security lighting. But she added that attempts to meet with management to discuss the issue have fallen on deaf ears.
Staff are now considering getting a solicitor involved to fight their case.
The parking ban was introduced in 2014 when a dedicated 1,400-space car park was provided for staff and contractors.
A Meadowhall spokeswoman said earlier this week that its staff car parks are less than 400 metres from the main building via a dedicated footbridge and there is CCTV.
She added: "Unfortunately, despite regular and repeated reminders including ticketing by CP Plus, there have been a very small number of staff who continue to ignore the policy and park within the main Meadowhall car parks.
"As a result, CPP has now written to the most persistent offenders who have multiple outstanding parking fines. These will be followed up and, as a last resort, county court summonses applied."
She added Meadowhall is "committed to providing safe and free car parking for all of its staff and contractors."
Meadowhall and CP Plus have been contacted for comment and we are awaiting replies.