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C.B. Burns

Kemp Smith


Clara (C.B.) Burns is a Partner in the Firm’s Labor and Employment Law Department and a member of the Firm's Management Committee. She is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is also licensed in New Mexico. C.B. represents employers in all aspects of workplace law, including advice and counseling, workplace investigations, handbook and policy reviews, and litigation defense of discrimination, discharge, and other employment matters in the federal and state courts of Texas and New Mexico and before numerous governmental agencies.

Some of C.B.’s recent successes include:

  • Defense verdict in a disability discrimination case in the Western District of Texas.
  • Defense verdicts in cases involving workers’ compensation retaliation, sexual harassment, and retaliation in El Paso County.
  • A permanent injunction, a monetary judgment and an award of attorney’s fees on behalf of an employer in a non-compete case.
  • Defense awards in employment arbitration cases on behalf of clients, including a national hospital company, a major retailer, a global manufacturer of automotive products, and a national manufacturer of food safety products, involving age, national origin, race, and sex discrimination claims and FMLA claims.
  • Summary judgment on behalf of a regional banking operation in Bernalillo County (Albuquerque, NM) in a multi-plaintiff sex and age discrimination and breach of contract case.
  • Representation of the Texas Association of Business, which along with other business associations, obtained an injunction in the Northern District of Texas against the United States Department of Labor from implementing its “Persuader Rule.”
  • Successful argument before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in which the Court affirmed dismissal of state law discrimination claims against a federal contractor operating at Fort Bliss, Texas, based on the Federal Enclave Doctrine.
  • A reverse and render judgment by the Texas Supreme Court, unanimously reversing a jury verdict against an El Paso employer in a workers’ compensation retaliation lawsuit.
  • Amici briefing before the Texas Supreme Court successfully advocating against extension of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Act to existing Texas state law.

In addition to her practice, C.B. is the editor of the Family and Medical Leave Act chapter in the Texas Association of Business’ Texas Employment Law Handbook, and the author of the Texas Human Resources Manual, published by the American Chamber of Commerce Resources. She also speaks frequently at national, state and local employment law seminars, including the annual Labor and Employment Advanced Practices Symposium and the University of Texas Labor and Employment Law Conference.


C.B. is a fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and is ranked in the top tier of Labor and Employment Lawyers in Texas by Chambers USA. Chambers USA has recognized her as an “indefatigable litigator who is very thorough, tenacious, and effective in jury and bench trials” and as a “phenomenal employment attorney.” She has been recognized as a Texas “Super Lawyer” and listed in Best Lawyers in America. Best Lawyers in America has selected her as a Lawyer of the Year for El Paso on several occasions, including as its Labor Law – Management “Lawyer of the Year” for 2018 and 2020.

C.B. also has been quoted on employment law matters by a number of media outlets, including the PolitiFact Texas, the Waco Tribune, and El Paso Inc.

C.B. also has been quoted on employment law matters by a number of media outlets, including the PolitiFact Texas, the Waco Tribune, and El Paso Inc.



Texas Human Resources Manual


  • TX: 2020 Texas Employment Relations Symposium (August)
  • EEOC Retaliation Guidance Update


(915) 533-4424