I-Team: Dozens Of Women Say Former Dallas Employer Owes Them Money

By Jason Allen & Kelsy Mittauer | CBSDFW.COM

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DALLAS (CBS11) – A woman’s Facebook plea for her paycheck caught the attention of dozens of other women who say a Dallas business is refusing to pay them for work.

The owner of Cerra Insurance admitted to CBS11 he kept the money, saying it was because the former employees stole from the office or didn’t return their key.

Isabel Macias posted the short video this month, claiming Cerra Insurance fired her for being 30 minutes late to work because of a traffic jam. The 21-year-old said the owner then refused to give her a paycheck.

“He’s like, ‘You abandoned your job. I had to change the locks at the Plano location so you will not be getting a paycheck’,” she said owner Fernando Cerra told her.

Her video caught the attention of Martha De Luna’s husband.

“He said, ‘Hey you need to contact this girl because she’s going through the same thing that you went through’,” she said.

As many as 25 women came forward because of the video.

Carrollton attorney Stephen Le Brocq is now representing several of them for a possible lawsuit, expected to ask for back pay with interest and penalties.

“I think it was targeted,” Le Brocq said. “They were targeted because they are Hispanic and because they are female.”

At one of Cerra’s offices on Buckner Boulevard in Dallas Thursday, Fernando Cerra told the CBS11 I-Team he kept the women’s money because they had stolen property from the company. In other cases, he said he needed it to change the locks when they didn’t return keys.

He said he never reported any thefts to police.

When asked why so many women would steal from the company, he said “I think that’s a valid question you should ask them.”

The Texas Workforce Commission told the I-Team there are records of paycheck complaints against Cerra going back to 2000.

The state has determined the company needed to pay money back to employees in three cases, totaling more than $1,600. Cerra also appealed five cases that were eventually dismissed. One more case is pending.

Most of the women who spoke with the I-Team said they didn’t realize going to the state was an option, but they’re willing to fight now. One former manager said she thought as many as 90 women could potentially be missing all or part of their pay.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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