Biography

Vanessa leads the firm’s Employment Law Litigation Group. She has practiced law for over twenty years and has been Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2005. Vanessa’s employment law experience includes numerous successful jury trials in state and federal court and the dismissal of numerous claims by motions for summary judgment and motions to dismiss.  

Born and raised in South Texas, Vanessa earned her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law after completing her B.A. in Speech Communications from Texas A&M University. After law school, Vanessa served as an Assistant Attorney General of Texas, where she represented the Texas Department of Transportation before entering private practice.

Vanessa regularly counsels government and private employers to ensure compliance with state and federal employment laws; conducts workplace investigations; prepares and negotiates employment contracts; prepares and updates employee manuals; and provides management training. In addition to traditional employment law claims brought under the FLSA, Title VII, the ADA, the FMLA, and the Texas Labor Code, Vanessa has extensive experience defending constitutional employment law claims and whistleblower claims against government entities.

Vanessa’s clients have included government entities, institutions of higher education, national companies, small businesses, and nonprofits. She also counsels institutions of higher education in matters related to the Public Information Act, Title IX, student rights, OCR investigations, and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

Outside of her time spent helping employers navigate employment laws, Vanessa enjoys hanging out in South Austin with her husband, two kids and four dogs.   

Representative Experience

  • Advise clients in all areas of state and federal labor and employment laws, including: the Fair Labor Standards Act; Equal Pay Act; National Labor Relations Act; Family and Medical Leave Act; Americans with Disabilities Act; Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act; Older Workers’ Benefits Protection Act; WARN Act; reductions in force; workers’ compensation retaliation; First Amendment claims; Due Process claims; and claims brought under the Texas Whistleblower Act
  • Advise institutions of higher education in matters related to Title IX, the Family Education and Privacy Rights Act, Office of Civil Rights investigations, student rights, and the Public Information Act
  • Draft and negotiate employment contracts for clients, including confidentiality agreements, non-competes, non-solicitation, and severance agreements
  • Conduct workplace investigations or advise clients conducting the investigations
  • Represent clients before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Austin Human Rights Commission and Texas Workforce Commission (including the former Texas Commission on Human Rights), and the Department of Labor; Practice includes drafting employer responses and statements of position as well as representation of employers at administrative hearings and on-site investigations and audits
  • Employment litigation experience in state and federal courts includes: defense of race, national origin, and sex discrimination claims; sexual harassment claims; disability discrimination and failure to accommodate cases; Family and Medical Leave Act cases; wage and hour cases; workers’ compensation retaliation; defamation; employment torts; First Amendment claims; due process claims; and claims brought under the Texas Whistleblower Act
  • Vanessa has obtained numerous successful dispositive motions for her clients, including summary judgments in cases involving race discrimination, failure to hire (ADA), ADEA and First Amendment retaliation claims.
  • Jury Trial experience includes numerous successful premises liability and condemnation cases in state court and successful employment law and civil rights cases in federal courts

Austin Bar Association – Member

Austin Human Resources Management Association – Member

Travis County Women Lawyers’ Association – Member

Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – Board of Directors; Education Committee Chair and Creator of AISD Title I High School Entrepreneurs Competition, 2014 – present

KLRU-TV – Board of Directors, 2010-2016

Hispanic Bar Association of Austin – President, 2004-05; Education Outreach Committee Chair and Creator of Middle School Essay Competition, 2004-2014

Literacy Coalition of Central Texas – Former Board of Directors, 2007-2013

Leadership Austin – Graduate, Essential Class of 2007

American Inns of Court

 

Employment Law Hot Topics, South Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association Conference (June 2017)

Public Transparency v. Student Privacy: The Intersection of FERPA and Open Records in Colleges: Texas Association of Community College Attorneys Annual Conference (January 2017)

Religion in the Workplace, V.G. Young Institute’s School for Local Government HR Professionals (April 2016)

Legal Risks: Terminating Employees, V.G. Young Institute’s School for County Commissioners Courts (February 2016)

ADA Update, Including Pregnancy, TCAA Fall Conference (September 2015)

Discrimination Law Update, AHRMA’s Annual Diversity and Inclusion Day (September 2015)

Pregnancy Discrimination, Austin Human Resources Management Association Conference (July 2015)

ADAA – Pregnancy Discrimination, Drug Use, V.G. Young School for Human Resources Professionals (May 2015)

Accommodating Pregnant Workers, County Progress Magazine (May 2015), TCAA Monthly News Vol. 10, Issue 4 (May 2015)

 Performing Thorough Workplace Investigations, Texas Municipal Human Resources Association Annual Conference (April 2015)

 Texas Whistleblower Act, County Progress Magazine (April 2015), TCAA Monthly News Vol. 10, Issue 4 (March 2015)

 Risk Management: Violence in the Workplace, V. G. Young Institute: School for County Commissioners Conference (February 2015)

Supreme Court to Address Pregnancy Discrimination, County Progress Magazine (November 2014)

Drug Testing Employees & Applicants, County Progress Magazine (July 2014) and TCAA Monthly News, Vol. 9, Issue 10 (August 2014)

Employment Constitutional Claims against Counties, South Texas County Judges and Commissioners Conference (June 2014) and School for Local Government HR Professionals (April 2014)

Attendance as an Essential Job Function, County Progress Magazine (March 2014) and TCAA Monthly News, Vol. 9, Issue 10 (April 2014)

Same Sex Harassment – Gender Stereotyping, County Progress Magazine (January 2014) and TCAA Monthly News, Vol. 9, Issue 4 (February 2014)

Personnel Issues During and After a Disaster, Texas City Attorneys Association Fall Conference (October 2013)

Regulating Employee Conduct Away from the Workplace, South Texas County Judges and Commissioners’ Association Conference (June 2013)  and West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association Conference (April 2013)

National Labor Relations Board 2012 Summary and 2013 Updates, Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (March 2013)

Workplace Investigations, School for Local Government HR Professionals (April 2013)

Minimizing Litigation, Austin Human Resources Management Association monthly meeting (June 2012).

Harassment and Investigations, Austin Human Resources Management Association Annual Conference (August 2012).

 

Bloss v. Moore, 269 Fed. Appx. 446 (5th Cir. 2008)

Perez v. Jim Hogg County, 2006 WL 2092431 (S.D. Tex. 2006)

Greer v. Litsher, 211 Fed. Appx. 238 (5th Cir. 2004)

Crane v. Saults, 101 S.W.3d 764 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2003)

Doyal v. Johnson County, 79 S.W.3d 139 (Tex. App.-Waco 2002)

Casanova v. City of Brookshire, 119 F.Supp.2d 639 (S.D. Tex. 2000)