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Carla Cotropia

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  • Senior Partner

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Carla Cotropia
Rated by Super Lawyers

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Practice Areas

  • Employment Law
  • Employment Mediation and Arbitration
  • Title VII and 1983 Discrimination and Harassment Litigation
  • Employee Handbooks and Policies
  • TWC Unemployment Benefit Claims and Tax Audits
  • Wage and Hour Claims, Investigations, and Litigation
  • Governmental and Municipal Law
  • Mediation and Arbitration


  • Baylor University School of Law, Waco, Texas
    • J.D. - 1980
  • Texas A & M University-College Station, College Station, Texas
    • B.A. - 1977
    • Honors: cum laude


  • Texas Super Lawyer, Alternative Dispute Resolution, 2016-2022
  • 2017 Houstonia Magazine Top Lawyer
  • Texas Super Lawyer, Employment Litigation, 2004-2010, 2013-2015
  • Texas Top Lawyers 2014, 2015
  • Voted one of the Top Lawyers for the People, H Texas Magazine


Carla leads the firm's Labor and Employment Law group. She is a mediator specializing in employment law and is an Employment Arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.

Carla has been practicing employment law since 1980, having tried her first sexual harassment case in 1986 in Benton v. The Kroger Co., 640 F. Supp. 1317. She is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law since 2000 and has litigated not only harassment cases but civil rights, Title VII, gender, disability, age, national origin, school law, public housing and mental health law cases. Carla specializes in Employment mediations and is a mediator and arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. Carla has served as general counsel for the Park Board of Trustees for the City of Galveston since 1999. She also investigates discrimination and harassment claims for companies and conducts training on discrimination prevention in the workplace. More information concerning Carla's mediation practice and training courses may be found at Cotropiaworkshops.com.

Visit Carla's blog which features posts on employment law and other miscellaneous topics of interest.

Carla grew up on a cotton farm on the Brazos River in Texas. Her interests include gardening, art and traveling to the West Texas town of Marfa.

Classes & Seminars

  • Lecture, "What Works In Arbitration and Mediation From An Arbitrator's And Mediator's Perspective," Houston Bar Association, Houston, Texas, June 4, 2010
  • Lecture, Preventing Sexual Harassment Cases, 2003 to 2003
  • Lecture, "Choosing and Courting a Jury - The Focus Group - How It Can Aid in Choosing Your Jury," Defendant's Perspective, State Bar of Texas, Radisson Hotel Astrodome, Houston, Texas, April 26, 2002
  • Lecture, "Investigation Allegations of Sexual Harassment," Texas Council Risk Management Fund, The Menger Hotel, San Antonio, Texas, March 26, 2002
  • Lecture, "Sexual Harassment Issues," Texas Council Risk Management Fund, The Fairmont Hotel, Dallas, Texas, March 27, 2001
  • Lecture, "Jury Selection in the New Millennium," Texas Association of Defense Counsel, 2000 Spring Meeting, San Diego, California, April 5-9, 2000
  • Lecture, "Sexual Harassment": Managing Risks Related to Employment, Texas Council Risk Management Fund, The Warwick Hotel, Houston, Texas, March 14, 2000
  • Lecture, "Sexual Harassment," Texas Council Risk Management Fund, "Managing Risks Related to Employment," Le Meridien Hotel, Dallas, Texas, March 30, 1999
  • Lecture, "Sexual Harassment Training for Faculty Members and Staff," Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, Texas, August 19, 1998
  • Lecture, "Employment Retaliation Litigation: An Overview," Suing and Defending Governmental Entities, Doubletree Hotel, Houston, Texas, May 14-15, 1998
  • Lecture, "Employee Status Issues," Texas Association of Defense Counsel, Spring Meeting, Seattle, Washington, April 25, 1996
  • Lecture, "Confidentiality Issues," Coastal Area Health Education Center Second Annual Family Violence Conference, College of the Mainland, Texas City, Texas, March 8, 1996
  • Lecture, "Governmental Liability," Galveston County Bar Association, Attorney Ad Litem Seminar, Galveston, Texas, August 17, 1995
  • Lecture, "Sexual Harassment and Work Place Damage Claims," Texas Association of Defense Counsel Spring Meeting, Houston, Texas, May 4, 1995
  • Lecture, "Public Law Update," Annual Labor and Employment Law Update, State Bar of Texas, El Paso, Texas, March 25, 1995
  • Lecture, "Update on Texas Cases Affecting Governmental Bodies," Texas Municipal League Attorney Workshop, Austin, Texas, August 19, 1994
  • Lecture, Emotional Torts in the Workplace, Texas Association of Defense Counsel Spring Meeting, Hawaii, April 27, 1994
  • Lecture, "How to Avoid Litigation," Housing Authority Insurance for Public Housing Authorities, Houston, Texas, September 28, 1993
  • Lecture, "What You Absolutely Can and Cannot Do: The Legal Aspect of the ADA," St. Mary's Hospital, October 29, 1992
  • Lecture, "Sexual Harassment," St. Paul Insurance Company, August 13, 1992
  • "Executive Director/Staff - Working With Legal Counsel," Tarrant County MHMR Services and the Texas Council of Community MHMR Centers, Inc., June 25, 1992
  • Lecture, "The Use of Summary Judgments in 42 USC 1983 Cases," State Bar of Texas, Austin and San Antonio, 1985
  • The Cotropia Workshops, Director
  • Lecture, "Workplace Ethics and Liabilities," Texas Association of Defense Counsel Fall Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 27-October 1, 2006
  • Lecture, "Update on Sexual Harassment," Housing Authority Defense Attorneys, June Program, Washington D.C., June 22, 2005
  • Lecture, "Job Order Contracts: What We Know and What We Don't Know," 8th Annual Texas Association of Community College Attorneys Conference, Austin, Texas, January 27, 2006
  • Lecture, "Managing Another Kind of Risk: Personnel Issues – What You And Your Company Can Do To Prevent Lawsuits For Sexual Harassment," CNA Risk Management Seminar, San Antonio, Texas, November 13, 2003
  • Lecture, "Office Protocol vs. Practice: Where It Can Land You is Not Where You Want To Be and Top Ten Tips of Preventing Bad Behavior with Examples of X and R Rated Behavior From Various States," HADA, June Program, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, June 18, 2003
  • Lecture, "How to Lawfully Conduct an Internal Investigation," Sterling Education Services, Marriott Hotel, Houston, Texas, August 6, 2002
  • Lecture, "How Your Housing Authority can be Sued for Sexual Harassment and What You Can Do to Prevent It," Housing Authority Defense Attorneys – June Program, Denver, Colorado, June 26, 2002
  • “Using Jury Consultants for Employment Cases,” HBA Labor & Employment Law luncheon meeting on November 11, 2013
  • “Mediation Tactics and Strategy,” 26th Annual Employment Law Conference on July 25, 2013 – July 26, 2013
  • "The Varying Perspectives on City Curfews of Minors - Constitutionality of NonEmergency Curfews Under the United States Constitution," Semi-Annual Conference hosted by the Texas City Attorneys Association, June 11-12, 1992
  • Frequent Public Speaker, State Bar on Employment Law
  • "Employer's Liability" 11th Annual Advanced Personal Injury Law Course, State Bar of Texas, San Antonio, Texas, July 19, 1995
  • 40-Hour Basic Mediation Training; A. A. White Dispute Resolution Institute at the University of Houston, C. T. Bauer College of Business
  • Arbitrator I Workshop; Department of Neutrals' Education and Development with the American Arbitration Association
  • Arbitrator II Advance Case Management Training Workshop; Department of Neutrals' Education and Development with the American Arbitration Association
  • AAA/ICDR Neutrals Conference; American Arbitration Association, 2012
  • Lecture, "Employment Mediations: Beyond Insults and Impasse", HBA Labor & Employment Law Luncheon, 2016

Bar Admissions

  • Texas, 1980
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Texas
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit

Professional Associations

  • American Arbitration Association, Panel, Employment Mediations and Arbitrations
  • National Arbitration and Mediation Company(NAM), Panel, Employment Mediations and Arbitrations
  • American Bar Association, Member
  • Galveston Bar Association, Member
  • Houston Bar Association, Member
  • Houston Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section, Board
  • Association of Attorney-- Mediators, Member, Present

Certified Legal Specialties

  • Board Certified, Texas Board of Legal Specialization – Labor and Employment Law
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