In her dual roles as director and senior attorney, Vanessa Houston focuses on labor and employment litigation matters for American Airlines.
As a leader in a legal area that’s continually evolving as it relates to compensation, benefits, work hours, time off, and more, Houston takes pride in being proactive, helping her colleagues understand what’s coming through trainings and drafting employee policies and procedures. Recently, there has been no shortage of issues coming across the attorney’s desk.
Here are two issues making waves at the state and federal levels:
A Timeline of Vanessa Houston’s Career
2007-2010: Attends Marshall University, studying political science and psychology
2010-2013: Pursues her JD at University of Kentucky College of Law
2013-2019: Accepts her first position as an attorney at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
2019-2022: Works as an attorney ag Seyfarth Shaw LLP
2022-present: Accepts an in-house position at American Airlines as director and senior attorney
The CROWN Act
In 2023, the Texas Labor Code prohibited race discrimination on the basis of an employee’s hair texture or a protective hairstyle associated with race, including include braids, locks, and twists. Twenty additional states have passed a similar law, called the CROWN Act—an acronym for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.
The law gained traction in 2020 amid a series of instances, including two Texas students who were told to cut their hair or be disciplined.
“I am incredibly thankful to the Governor for signing the CROWN Act into law,” Texas Representative Rhetta Bowers said in a statement. “The CROWN Act is a civil rights law that will improve the lives of countless Texans, and it will be appreciated by more people than we can imagine.”
Artificial Intelligence and Employment
According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chairwoman Charlotte Burrows, more that 80 percent of employers are using artificial intelligence (AI) in some form of their work and employment decision-making. That’s why lawmakers around the US have been weighing the benefits and risk of leveraging AI in employment matters.
While there is there is no federal law or regulation in place, many have proposed and enacted bills to regulate the use of AI in the hiring process and in the workforce. Federal agencies have also been focused on the matter. In May 2022, the EEOC published guidance to help employers comply with the American Disabilities Act (ADA) while using AI in the workplace. In the following January, that agency issued a draft enforcement plan that placed AI-related employment discrimination at the top of its priorities. The Department of Justice has also posted ADA and AI-related guidance.
New York City has been one of the places to go the farthest on its AI regulation journey. In July 2023, New York City began enforcing a law that prohibits employers or employment agencies from using automated employment decision tools to make employment decisions unless the tool is audited for bias each year. Employers must also publish a public summary of the audit and notify applicants and employees who are screened by the tool.
Vanessa Houston’s Volunteer Experiences
Mentor at the Big Brother Big Sister Foundation Inc.
Mentor at Dress for Success Louisville
Associate board member at Maryhurst
Attorney volunteer at Reily Reentry Project: Expungement Clinic
Fellow at the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity
Volunteer at the American Heart Association
Seyfarth Shaw LLP: Vanessa is an incredible person, talented labor and employment attorney, and an up-and-coming leader in the airline industry and her community. As her former colleagues, we are proud to see her featured. Congratulations, Vanessa!