People: Gloria M. Portela, Senior Counsel

Photo of Gloria M. Portela, Senior Counsel

Gloria M. Portela

Senior Counsel

Houston
Direct: (713) 225-2341
Fax: (713) 225-2340
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Ms. Portela is Senior Counsel in the Houston office specializing in the mediation of employment cases, especially complex class actions, wage and hour cases and ERISA litigation. Her practice also includes mediating intellectual property and commercial cases.  She is the founding partner of the office, and formerly served as its managing partner.

Ms. Portela is a director of St. Luke’s Health System; the Association of Attorney Mediators; and Houston Grand Opera.  She also serves on the Community Foundation Council of the Greater Houston Community Foundation and on the Governing Council of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.  She is a past Governor of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, where she was elected a founding fellow in 1996.

From 2002-2010, she was a director of Browne & Co., Inc. (BNE-NYSE - the oldest company then listed on the NYSE) where she served on the Compensation and Management Committee; the Finance Committee, and the CEO Search Committee. 

Ms. Portela has lectured and published numerous articles including “Let’s Make A Deal”  Texas Lawyer, (1997) and “Mediating Employment Disputes,” Just Resolutions (1999).  She also co-authored the chapter “Employment and Labor Disputes” in the book Alternative Dispute Resolution: The Litigator’s Handbook, published by the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section.

A native of Havana, Cuba, Ms. Portela came to the United States in 1961 and is completely bilingual in Spanish and English.

Her past government service includes: the Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (1993 to 1995); the Commission on Workforce Quality and Labor Market Efficiency (1988 to 1990); the Texas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (1984 to 1986); and the Civil Rights Reviewing Authority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1981 to 1983).

Ms. Portela is Senior Counsel in the Houston office specializing in the mediation of employment cases, especially complex class actions, wage and hour cases and ERISA litigation. Her practice also includes mediating intellectual property and commercial cases.  She is the founding partner of the office, and formerly served as its managing partner.

Ms. Portela is a director of St. Luke’s Health System; the Association of Attorney Mediators; and Houston Grand Opera.  She also serves on the Community Foundation Council of the Greater Houston Community Foundation and on the Governing Council of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.  She is a past Governor of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, where she was elected a founding fellow in 1996.

From 2002-2010, she was a director of Browne & Co., Inc. (BNE-NYSE - the oldest company then listed on the NYSE) where she served on the Compensation and Management Committee; the Finance Committee, and the CEO Search Committee. 

Ms. Portela has lectured and published numerous articles including “Let’s Make A Deal”  Texas Lawyer, (1997) and “Mediating Employment Disputes,” Just Resolutions (1999).  She also co-authored the chapter “Employment and Labor Disputes” in the book Alternative Dispute Resolution: The Litigator’s Handbook, published by the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section.

A native of Havana, Cuba, Ms. Portela came to the United States in 1961 and is completely bilingual in Spanish and English.

Her past government service includes: the Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (1993 to 1995); the Commission on Workforce Quality and Labor Market Efficiency (1988 to 1990); the Texas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (1984 to 1986); and the Civil Rights Reviewing Authority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1981 to 1983).

Education

  • J.D., Northwestern University School of Law (1976)
  • Doctorate in Humanities, Honoris Causa, University of St. Thomas (2009)
  • B.A., Loyola University, Chicago (1973)
    magna cum laude

Admissions

  • Texas
  • Illinois

Affiliations

  • College of Labor & Employment Lawyers
  • Association of Attorney Mediators
  • American Bar Association
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Houston Bar Association

Representative Engagements

  • Veprinsky v. Flour Daniel, (N.D. Ill. 1995) defense verdict in national origin discharge case Villalobos v. Petroleos Mexicanos (Harris Cty. Dist. Ct., Texas 1990) (directed verdict for defense in wrongful discharge case involving breach of implied contract and tort claims)
  • Peterson v. Fort Howard Corp. (N.D. Ill. 1989) (defense verdict in race discrimination discharge case) 
  • Villalobos v. Petroleos Mexicanos and Texas Employment Commission (Harris Cty. Dist. Ct., Texas 1988) (defense verdict on behalf of foreign employer under Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act)
  • Abbs v. Rier Ins., Inc. (S.D. Tex. 1984) (defense jury verdict in Section 1981 race discrimination case)
  • Vallone v. Agip Petroleum Company, 705 S.W. 2d 757 (Tex. App. Hous. 1st Dist. 1986), writ ref’d n.r.e. (1986); Weber v. M.W. Kellogg, 720 S.W. 2d 124 (Tex. App. Hous. 1st Dist. 1986), writ ref’d n.r.e. (1987); Benoit v. Polysar Gulf Coast, Inc., 720 S.W. 2d 403 (Tex. App. Hous. 9th Dist. 1987), writ ref’d n.r.e. (1987) (trio of separate, frequently cited wrongful discharge cases in which appellate courts affirmed summary judgment to the employers in each instance, with the Texas Supreme Court refusing review in each case n.r.e. (no reversible error))
  • Leandre v. Marriott Corp. (U.S.C.A. 7th Circuit, 1994) summary judgment affirmed for employer in age, race and national origin case
  • Six v. Terra Resources (S.D. Tex. 1988) (summary judgment for employer in age discrimination case)
  • Meiresonne, et al. v. Marriott Corp. (N.D. Ill. 1987) (class action) (lead counsel for defendant in one of first reported glass-ceiling case)