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 has called her “the reigning plaintiffs’ champion” (2013) and has said she is “probably the best known wage class action lawyer on the plaintiff side in this area, if not the entire country” (2015). Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly described her on its “Power List” (2009) 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.” Politico named her to its guide to the “Top 50 thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2016”.  San Francisco Magazine has said that “Liss-Riordan has achieved a kind of celebrity unseen in the legal world since Ralph Nader sued General Motors.”

For nearly 20 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, and she has also been profiled in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, and the LA Times.

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.


Uber’s Worst Nightmare
San Francisco Magazine | May, 2016

Litigator of the Week: Shannon Liss-Riordan of Lichten & Liss-Riordan
The American Lawyer | April, 2016

Meet the attorney suing Uber, Lyft, GrubHub and a dozen California tech firms
LA Times | January, 2016

Meet “Sledgehammer Shannon,” the Lawyer Who Is Uber’s Worst Nightmare
Mother Jones | December, 2015

Meet the Lawyer Challenging the Food-Delivery Industry
Eater | December, 2015

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

‘Sledgehammer Shannon:’ The attorney taking on Uber and others in the sharing economy
Bizwomen | September, 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

Marzuq v. Cadete Enterprises, Inc., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 21301 (1st Cir. 2015) (Dunkin Donuts general managers could be eligible for time-and-a-half overtime pay by proving management was not their primary duty, distinguishing 1982 Burger King precedent, which had held fast food managers to be overtime-exempt)

Travers v. Flight Systems & Services, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 21671 (1st Cir. 2015) (affirming jury verdict in favor of skycap who was terminated in retaliation for leading class action wage complaint challenging policy affecting skycaps’ tips and reinstating claim for front pay)

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)

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)

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, 1999
Member, State Bar of California, 2016

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