Rachel Wisdom practices in labor and employment law, complex litigation, and class action lawsuits. Her extensive experience includes defending public agencies and businesses against wage penalty, employment civil rights, retaliatory discharge, and other claims in both federal and state courts. Rachel regularly advises clients on employment practices and policies, agreements, and related matters.
One of her most notable cases includes defending the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) against a class action lawsuit that sought to stop HANO from tearing down storm damaged public housing projects after Hurricane Katrina to build mixed-income housing.
Rachel also provides pro-bono legal services for the homeless through Homeless Experience Legal Protection (H.E.L.P.).
- Defended wage penalty, FLSA, FMLA, ERISA, ADA, retaliatory discharge, employment civil rights, as well as race, sex, and age discrimination claims in federal and state courts for public agencies as well as hotels, manufacturers, a cable installation company, a railroad, an insurance company, and professional services companies.
- Successfully prosecuted and defended many claims for breach of employment contracts, including claims to enforce non-competition, anti-raiding, and confidentiality clauses.
- Represented manufacturing defendants in workplace exposure claims.
- Represented public agencies in numerous employee termination appeals to the Louisiana Civil Service Commission and represented management in union arbitration proceedings.
- Advises numerous clients regarding employment practices and policies, agreements, terminations, and related compensation issues.
- Represented a public housing agency, insurance companies, and other business defendants in commercial and other class action proceedings, and has successfully defended against class certification. E.g., Anderson v. U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, 554 F.3d 525 (5th Cir. 2008).
- Obtained a summary judgment in favor of a Louisiana industrial plant, dismissing damages claims in excess of $50,000,000.
Professional & Civic Activities
Professional and Civic Activities
- Board of Directors of Advocates for Arts-Based Education, a nonprofit corporation that operates the Lusher Charter Schools in New Orleans, 2005 – present.
- Executive Council of the Louisiana State Bar Association Labor & Employment Section 2006 – 2014.
- Board of Advisors for Ozanam Inn, a shelter and service provider for the homeless, 2007 – 2012.
- President of the Board of Directors of Rebuilding Our Community, Inc., a nonprofit organization working to assist with rebuilding efforts in New Orleans after Katrina, 2007 – 2009.
- Board Member and Secretary of New Orleans Computer Access Program, a charitable organization that provided personal computers and training to disadvantaged New Orleans Public School first grade students and their parents, 2000 – 2005.
- Judge pro tempore for the First City Court of Orleans Parish on multiple occasions from 1999 – 2009.
- Litigation Counsel of America Fellow.
- Rachel is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Tulane University Law School and teaches Negotiation & Mediation Advocacy.
Honors & Awards
Honors & Awards
- American Bar Foundation Fellow.
- Benchmark Litigation "Future Star" 2020.
- Best Lawyers in America 2008 – 2023.
- Chambers and Partners 2013 – 2022.
- Louisiana Super Lawyers 2009 – 2022.
- Top 25 Women Lawyers in Louisiana 2011, 2012, 2018, and 2022.
- New Orleans Magazine "Top Lawyer" 2012 – 2021.
- New Orleans CityBusiness 2010 and 2021 Leadership in Law honoree.
- New Orleans CityBusiness Woman of the Year 2008.
News & Events
In the News
"LGBT Issues in Labor & Employment," LSBA Specialty Bar Conference, August 2021.
"Workplace Monitoring and Information Security," NBI Seminar, November 2019.
"Independent Contractor or Employee?," Fund 17 Presentation, May 2019.
"Employment Basics," New Orleans BioInnovation Center, September 2017.
"Labor and Employment Law for Business Attorneys," National Business Institute Seminar, June 2017.
"Beyond the Bathrooms: A Focus on Transgender Rights," New Orleans Bar Association, June 2016.
"The Impact of Windsor and Obergefell on Employee Rights/Employer Obligations and Emerging LGBT Issues in the Louisiana Workplace," Current Developments in Labor & Employment Law CLE program, March 2016.
- Louisiana Federal and State Courts
Tulane University Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, 1990
- Order of the Coif
- Notes and Comments Editor, Tulane Law Review, 1989-90
Tulane University, magna cum laude, with departmental honors, 1984
- Phi Beta Kappa
L'Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, 1982-83
- Judicial law clerk to the Honorable Martin L.C. Feldman, U.S. District Court, 1990-91.