Shannon Liss-Riordan


Shannon Liss-Riordan is widely recognized as one of the nation’s top plaintiffs’ class action employment lawyers. She has reshaped industries through her pioneering successes representing tipped workers, employees misclassified as independent contractors, and low wage workers who have been denied overtime, minimum wage, and other wage protections. Best Lawyers in America (2013) has called her “the reigning plaintiffs’ champion”. Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly described her on its 2009 “Power List” as a “Tenacious class-action plaintiffs’ lawyer [who] strikes fear in big-firm employment attorneys throughout Boston with her multi-million-dollar victories on behalf of strippers, waiters, skycaps and other non-exempt employees.”

Over the last 17 years, Ms. Liss-Riordan has brought and won groundbreaking lawsuits that have shaped the law protecting workers in the food service, cleaning, adult entertainment, trucking, and other industries. She is currently representing workers in a number of cases against self-proclaimed “sharing economy” companies that save on labor costs by misclassifying employees as independent contractors. She represents employees nationally, at the trial court and appellate levels, including six landmark victories at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Some of her most notable cases include victories against Starbucks, FedEx, and American Airlines. The Boston Globe has profiled her work twice as a “legal champion” fighting for the rights of low wage workers. CommonWealth Magazine has featured her as “The Worker’s Champion”.

A graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College, Ms. Liss-Riordan co-founded Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C. in 2009. Previously she was a partner at a plaintiff-side employment and union law firm in Boston where she worked for more than 10 years after clerking for a federal court judge for two years following law school.


Meet the Boston Lawyer Who’s Putting Uber on Trial
Wall Street Journal | November, 2015

What Strippers Can Teach Uber
Medium | April, 2015

Meet the lawyer taking on Uber and the rest of the on-demand economy
Fusion | April, 2015

2014 Top Women of Law
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly | December, 2014

The worker’s champion
CommonWealth Magazine | July, 2013

Lawyer fights for low-wage workers’ rights
Boston Globe | December, 2012

Skycaps and waiters find a legal champion
Boston Globe | April, 2008


Best Lawyers in America (each year since 2008)
Massachusetts Super Lawyers (each year since 2005)
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Lawyer of the Year (2002)

Lawyer of the Year
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly | December, 2002

Harvey A. Schwartz, Boston employment and civil rights lawyer, on Shannon Liss-Riordan
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly | December, 2002

Major Rulings

Depianti v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, 465 Mass. 607 (2013) (Supreme Judicial Court held that national cleaning company could be liable for misclassifying cleaning workers, notwithstanding that contracts were with intermediary companies)

Taylor v. Eastern Connection, 465 Mass. 191 (2013) (Supreme Judicial Court held that Massachusetts law could apply to work performed outside of the state, due to choice-of-law provision in workers’ contracts)

Villon v. Marriott, Hawaii Supreme Court No. 11-747 (2013) (Hawaii Supreme Court held that waitstaff could sue to recover service charges retained by employers under state service charge statute, leading to resolution of multiple cases and payments to thousands of Hawaii service employees)

Matamoros v. Starbucks, 699 F.3d 129 (1st Cir. 2012) (Starbucks violated Massachusetts tips law by allowing supervisors to share in tip pool, resulting in $23.5 million settlement, removal of supervisors from tip pool, and $3/hour pay raise for supervisors)

Sample trial victories

Travers v. Flight Systems & Services (D. Mass. 2014) (close to $1 million jury verdict in favor of skycap who was terminated in retaliation for bringing wage complaint about policy affecting skycaps’ tips) (appeal pending)

DiFiore v. American Airlines (D. Mass. 2008) (jury verdict in favor of skycaps, finding that airline violated state tips law and interfered with skycaps’ relationship with passengers by charging $2 per bag and not allowing skycaps to keep the proceeds of the charge; verdict led to airline dropping charge nationwide) (damages award reversed on federal preemption grounds)

Benoit v. The Federalist, Inc. (Mass. Super. 2007) (class action jury verdict in favor of waitstaff who did not receive total proceeds of service charges added to function bills)

Bradley v. City of Lynn, 443 F.Supp.2d 145 (D.Mass. 2006) (class action verdict finding state civil service exam had disparate impact on minorities, resulting in statewide hiring of more than 60 minority firefighters and police officers)

Calcagno v. High Country Investor, Inc. d/b/a Hilltop Steakhouse (Mass. Super. 2006) (class action jury verdict finding management illegally skimmed servers’ gratuities)

Sprague v. United Airlines, Inc., 2002 WL 1803733 (D. Mass 2002) (judgment of $1.1 million in a discrimination case brought by deaf airline mechanic who had been denied employment based on disability)

Dahill v. Boston Police Department, 434 Mass. 233 (2001) (Supreme Judicial Court decided that Massachusetts law would diverge from federal law in prohibiting discrimination against individuals with correctable disabilities, resulting in hiring of hearing-impaired police officer candidate and jury verdict of nearly $1 million)


Harvard Law School, J.D., 1996
Harvard College, A.B., 1990

Bar and Court Admissions

Member, State Bar of Massachusetts, 1998
Member, State Bar of New York, 1998

Admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals, First, Second, Third, Seventh, Ninth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits