Category Archives: Attorneys

Harold L. Lichten

Biography

Harold Lichten is a founding partner of the firm and has been practicing labor and employment law for 40 years. His practice now focuses on employment related class actions and individual litigation involving the misclassification of employees as independent contractors; failure to pay wages and overtime; discrimination; and wrongful termination. Since the beginning of his career as a legal services lawyer fighting for the rights of low-income workers, Mr. Lichten has been deeply committed to the field of civil rights and equal employment opportunity. He has been lead or co-counsel in landmark employment discrimination, wage and hour, and independent contractor misclassification cases throughout the United States. He has successfully argued appeals before the Supreme Court’s of Maine, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and New Jersey, and in the United States Court of Appeals for the First, Third, Seventh, Sixth, Eleventh and Ninth Circuits. In 2003 and 2015 he was named a Massachusetts Lawyer of the Year for his work in challenging the discriminatory hiring practices of police and fire departments within the state. Bradley v City of Lynn et al 443 F. Supp. 2d 145 (D. Mass); Smith v City of Boston 144 F. Supp. 3d 177 (D. Mass. 2015).

In 2017, his case Gannon vs City of Boston 476 Mass. 786  (2017), established that employers could not discriminate against disabled workers, unless they could prove the worker posed a significant risk of harm to themselves or others. In 2015, in the landmark case of Hargrove vs  Sleepy`s , he successfully argued for the adoption of the strict ABC test in New Jersey for determining independent contractor misclassification, and later succeeded in having the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, reverse the denial of class certification in that same case.  947 F3d 467 (2020).

In a series of cases, before the US Courts of Appeal for the Seventh, Third, First and Ninth Circuits, he successfully defended state wage act claims, against arguments that they were preempted by federal law, or subject to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act. Bedoya v. Am. Eagle Express Inc., 914 F.3d 812, 815 (3d Cir. 2019), Waithaka v. Amazon.com, Inc., 966 F.3d 10 (1st Cir. 2020).

Mr. Lichten and his firm, are currently actively involved in litigating cases across the country, on behalf of delivery drivers, cable and satellite TV installers, salespersons, and marketers improperly classified as independent contractors, and thereby denied wages and overtime. They are also litigating cases involving chain stores and service stations which have improperly classified their store managers as exempt from overtime.

Mr. Lichten currently splits his time between New England and South Carolina and actively litigates cases  across the United States.

Major Cases

Pace v. City of Lynn, Case No. 11-01360, slip op. (Essex Super. Ct., June 6, 2014) (whistleblower case involving city employee with a multi-million dollar verdict won for plaintiff)

Martins, et al. v. 3PD, Inc., 2013 WL 1320454 (D. Mass 2013) (won class certification and summary judgment that appliance delivery drivers were employees, not independent contractors)

Sam Hargrove, et al. v. Sleepy’s, et al., Case Nos. 12-2541/12-2542 (3rd Cir. 2013) (won reversal and remand of decision finding New Jersey truck drivers to be independent contractors, not employees of Sleepy’s)

Scantland, et al. v. Jeffry Knight, Inc., et al., 721 F.3d 1308 (11th Cir. 2013) (reversing trial court ruling that cable installers were properly classified as independent contractors)

Lopez, et al. v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 463 Mass. 696 (2012) (Supreme Court of Massachusetts reversed lower court decision and held that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts may be held liable under state discrimination law for constructing discriminatory promotional exams)

In The News

Mr. Lichten was named a 2003 and 2015 Lawyer of the Year by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

Boston police lieutenant exam discriminated against minorities, judge says
The Boston Globe | July, 2017

Judge rules Boston police exam discriminated against minorities
The Boston Globe | November, 2015

Court suspends probation officer demotions
The Boston Globe | August, 2015

MCAD ruling supports black Worcester officers passed over for promotion
Telegram & Gazette | July, 2015

NJ’s Definition of ‘Employee’ Revives Sleepy’s Class Suit
New Jersey Law Journal | May, 2015

Fired official wins suit vs. city
The Boston Globe | June, 2014

Black police officials sue city
The Boston Globe | February, 2012

Police hit with bias decision; Two officers may be due ‘millions’
Worcester Telegram | November, 2011

Endo Sales Reps Win Conditional Cert. For OT Suit
Law 360 | June, 2011

Sebring men sue MasTec for OT pay
Tampa Bay Online | June, 2010

Contractors cry foul over benefit-excluding system
St. Petersburg Times | December, 2009

Independent contractor decision has lawyers wary
Mass Lawyers Weekly | December, 2008

Judge says firefighter tests biased and unfair
The Boston Globe | August, 2006

Organized labor of love
The Boston Globe | February, 2005

Education

New York University School of Law, J.D., 1977
University of Pennsylvania, B.A., 1974

Professional Affiliations

Member, National Employment Lawyers Association
Member, AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee

Bar and Court Admissions

Member, State Bar of Massachusetts, since 1987

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

Practice Areas

Labor unions, wage and hour class actions, wrongful termination, employment discrimination

Shannon Liss-Riordan

Biography

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 more than 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 “gig 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. In 2019, Ms. Liss-Riordan ran for the U.S. Senate in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts, a campaign for which she received a number of labor endorsements.

Profiles

A New Suit Seeks to Turn Arbitrations, a Tool of Big Corporations, Against a Top Customer Service Provider
ProPublica | August, 2021

Worker Rights Atty Blazes Trail With Whole Foods, Uber Cases
Law360 | July, 2020

Uber’s Worst Nightmare
San Francisco Magazine | May, 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 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

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

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

Recognitions

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Go To Lawyers – Employment (2021)

Employee Attorney of the Year (national), Benchmark Litigation (2020)

Robert Morris, Sr. Award for Courage in Litigation, American Board of Trial Advocates, Massachusetts Chapter (2020)

“Top 50 thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics”, Politico (2016)

Top Women of Law, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (2014)

Best Lawyers in America (each year since 2008)

Massachusetts Super Lawyers (each year since 2005)

Lawyer of the Year, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (2002)

Major Appellate Rulings

Rittmann v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 19-35381 (9th Cir. 2020) (in nationwide case challenging driver misclassification, affirming denial of motion to compel arbitration, holding Amazon drivers to be exempt from Federal Arbitration Act under transportation worker exemption)

Waithaka v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 19-1848 (1st Cir. 2020) (in Massachusetts case challenging driver misclassification, affirming denial of motion to compel arbitration, holding Amazon drivers to be exempt from Federal Arbitration Act under transportation worker exemption, as well as state law)

O’Grady v. Merchant Exchange Productions, Inc., 41 Cal.App.5th 771 (2019) (holding that mandatory service charges may be gratuities under Calforrnia Labor Code)

Vazquez v. Jan-Pro, 923 F.3d 575 (9th Cir. 2019) (holding that landmark Dynamex decision applies retroactively, including to misclassification claims against “cleaning franchisor”, and applies to top-tier company in multi-tier “fissured employment” scheme; providing guidance on strength of ABC test for employment misclassification; and reinstating wage claims on behalf of janitors who challenged paying for their jobs and other wage violations)

Haitayan v. 7-Eleven, Inc., No. 18-55462, (9th Cir. 2019) (reinstating wage claims against 7-Eleven and reversing district court’s denial of injunction for plaintiffs and potential class members facing choice of pursuing wage claims or keeping their jobs)

Maplebear dba Instacart v. Busick, 26 Cal.App.5th 394 (Cal. Ct. App. 2018) (rejecting attempt to vacate arbitrator award certifying wage class action on behalf of Instacart drivers)

Khanal v. San Francisco Hilton, Inc., No. 15-15493 (9th Cir. 2017) (banquet employees could bring claim for service charges not distributed to them, reversing order holding wage claims brought by union employees preempted by LMRA)

Williams v. Jani–King, 837 F.3d 314 (3d Cir. 2016) (affirming class certification in case challenging cleaning workers’ classification as independent contractor “franchisees” under Pennsylvania law)

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

Norrell v. Spring Valley Country Club (Mass. Super. 2017) (class action jury verdict for waitstaff)

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)

Education

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

Bar and Court Admissions

Member, State Bar of Massachusetts, 1999
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 Appeal for the First, Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuit.

Ben Weber
Of Counsel

Ben Weber is a committed workers’ rights advocate with a lengthy record of public service. After graduating from law school in 2005, Ben was awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship and began work at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, where he represented migrant farm workers in complex federal employment litigation throughout the South.

Prior to joining the firm, Ben worked for four years as Assistant Attorney General in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Ben worked in the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division, where he prosecuted employers for violations of Massachusetts’ wage laws.

Ben later worked in the Attorney General’s Administrative Law Division where he represented numerous state agencies and boards in cases challenging administrative decisions. During that time, Ben briefed and argued more than 30 cases in the Massachusetts Appeals Court and developed an expertise in many areas of administrative law, including unemployment, licensure, and parental rights.

Education

University of Iowa College of Law, J.D., 2005
Brandeis University, B.A., 1996

Morry Stein Award of Valor

Bar and Court Admissions

Member, State Bar of Massachusetts, 2008
Member, State Bar of Tennessee, 2005

Matthew Thomson

Matthew Thomson is a partner at Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C. and has proudly represented workers since he joined the firm in 2013.  His practice focuses mainly on class actions relating to the misclassification of employees as independent contractors and violations of wage and hour laws.  Matt also represents employees in gender, age, and handicap discrimination cases and wrongful termination and whistleblower cases.

Matt has represented employees from a number of industries, including delivery drivers, bread distributors, cable and satellite installation technicians, couriers, exotic dancers, waitstaff employees, automobile detailers, carnival workers, and movers.  These lawsuits have resulted in workers across the country recovering tens of millions of dollars in unpaid wages.  Matt has obtained class certification and summary judgment on behalf of workers in state and federal courts, and he has drafted winning appellate briefs in both federal and state courts.  Matt has also tried cases in state and federal courts as well as in arbitration.

Matt was recently part of the team of lawyers that obtained the first holding under California law that exotic dancers were “employees” of the club at which they worked pursuant to the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision.

In 2014, Matt and his colleagues obtained a jury verdict of close to $1 million for a municipal employee asserting whistleblower claims against his employer.

Matt has been named a “Rising Star” by Massachusetts Super Lawyers every year from 2015 to 2020. In 2015, he and his colleagues received the “Zealous Advocate Award” from Centro de Los Derechos Del Migrante for their efforts representing migrant workers in the carnival industry.

Prior to joining Lichten & Liss-Riordan, Matt gained extensive knowledge of civil litigation by serving as a law clerk to the Superior Courts of Massachusetts and Maine.

Representative Cases and Decisions

Gregory v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Suff. Cty. C.A. No. 19-2728 (Mass. Super. Ct.) (co-lead counsel in lawsuit successfully challenging discriminatory use of juvenile court records to disqualify daycare workers from employment)

Carrow v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc., 2019 WL 7184548 (D.N.J. Dec. 26, 2019) (decision granting class certification to New Jersey FedEx drivers asserting claims that they were misclassified as independent contractors)

Camp v. Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc., 2019 WL 1472586, at *4 (D.N.H. Apr. 3, 2019) (decision dismissing defendant’s counterclaims and permitting conditional certification of FLSA collective action)

Johnson v. VCG-IS, LLC, No. 30-2015-00802813, slip op. (Cal. Super. Ct. Sept. 5, 2018) (first decision under California’s “ABC” employment test to hold that exotic dancers are employees as a matter of law)

Vargas v. Spirit Delivery & Distribution Servs., Inc., 245 F.Supp.3d 268 (D. Mass. 2017) (decision denying defendant’s motion for summary judgment and granting class certification)

Saunders v. Getchell Agency, 2015 WL 1292594 (D. Me. Mar. 23, 2015) (decision granting class certification to group of caretakers asserting state law overtime claims)

Garcia v. E.J. Amusements, 98 F. Supp. 3d 277 (D. Mass. 2015) (decision granting class certification to group of migrant carnival workers)

Pace v. City of Lynn, Essex Cty. No. 11-1360 (Mass. Super. Ct.) (trial that resulted in $962,000 verdict for city employee under Massachusetts whistleblower statute)

In the News

Education

Northeastern University School of Law, J.D., 2011
Bowdoin College, B.A., 2006

Bar and Court Admissions

Member, State Bar of Massachusetts, 2011

Admitted to practice before the U.S. District of Massachusetts, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Adelaide Pagano

Biography

Adelaide Pagano is a partner at Lichten & Liss-Riordan P.C. and a dedicated workers’ rights advocate. Adelaide represents employees in class action wage-and-hour cases, as well as in individual discrimination and retaliation cases. She is currently involved in a number of cases in which employees have been misclassified as independent contractors, including janitors for cleaning “franchise” companies, exotic dancers, and so-called “gig economy” workers for companies such as Uber, DoorDash, Instacart, and Amazon. She has also litigated numerous cases on behalf of tipped employees, including waiters, banquet servers, exotic dancers, and drivers.

Adelaide has obtained class certification and summary judgment on behalf of workers in state and federal courts and in arbitration. She served as class counsel alongside Attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan in the federal court litigation in O’Connor v. Uber Technologies Inc., Civ. A. No. 13-3826-EMC (N.D. Cal.), where the court recently approved a $20 million settlement on behalf of roughly 15,000 Uber drivers in California and Massachusetts. Along with Attorney Harold Lichten, she won an important victory in a disability discrimination case before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which helped clarify the law in this area. Adelaide has also worked on winning appellate briefs in the First and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2018 and 2019, Adelaide was named a Rising Star by Massachusetts Super Lawyers.

Prior to her work at the firm, Adelaide worked as an intern for the DC Employment Justice Center in Washington DC and for SEIU Local 32BJ (formerly Local 615) in Boston, where she assisted with arbitrations on behalf of cleaning workers. Before law school, Adelaide worked as a paralegal at a union-side labor law firm, in Washington, DC.

Important Cases:

Gannon v. City of Bos., 476 Mass. 786, 73 N.E.3d 748 (2017) (Supreme Judicial Court reversed summary judgment for the employer in disability discrimination case, clarifying the standard for “direct evidence” disability discrimination cases under Massachusetts law)

Waithaka v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. CV 18-40150-TSH, 2019 WL 3938053, at *1 (D. Mass. Aug. 20, 2019) (denying Defendant’s Motion to Compel arbitration and finding that Plaintiffs were exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1)

Rittmann v. Amazon.com, Inc., 383 F. Supp. 3d 1196 (W.D. Wash. 2019) (denying Defendant’s Motion to Compel arbitration and finding that Plaintiffs were exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1)

Da Costa v. Vanguard Cleaning Sys., Inc., Middlesex Civ. A. No. 15-04743, 2017 WL 4817349 (Mass. Super. Sept. 29, 2017) (Fishman, J.) (granting summary judgment to cleaning franchisees who alleged they were misclassified under Massachusetts and Connecticut law)

Marino v. Oznemoc Inc. dba Centerfolds, Suffolk Civ. A. No. 15-2326-D (Mass. Super. Jan. 6, 2017) (Wilkins, J.) (granting class certification to a class of exotic dancers on their claims under the Tips Law, Mass. Gen. L. c. 149 § 152A)

Khanal v. San Francisco Hilton, Inc., 681 F. App’x 624, 625 (9th Cir. 2017) (holding that banquet servers could bring claim for service charges not distributed to them, reversing order holding wage claims brought by union employees preempted by LMRA)

Education

Harvard Law School, J.D., cum laude
Macalester College, BA in political science, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa

Bar and Court Admissions

Member, State Bar of Massachusetts, 2014

Admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, First, Third, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits

Thomas Fowler

Thomas Fowler represents employees in wage and hour class action litigation, discrimination claims, whistleblower claims, and labor disputes. He has represented employees from a wide variety of backgrounds, including delivery drivers, cable and satellite installers, municipal employees, and firefighters.

Thomas has practiced employment and labor law since graduating from law school. Passionate about justice in the workplace, he began his commitment to workers’ rights during his time at Denison University as a volunteer union organizer for the SEIU International in a campaign to help the college’s dining hall workers form a union. Thomas continued to dedicate himself to the cause of workers’ rights in law school, where he focused on employment and labor. Thomas was an active member of Boston University’s Housing, Employment, Family, and Disability Law Clinic, representing workers in discrimination and Family Medical Leave Act claims.

Prior to joining the firm, Thomas worked in the Employment Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services as a Boston University Public Interest Fellow. At Greater Boston Legal Services, Thomas worked on unemployment insurance cases, as well as wage and hour cases on behalf of those who could not afford legal representation. His work ranged from representing individual clients to focusing on systemic issues through legislative advocacy and class actions. During his time at Greater Boston Legal Services, Thomas also volunteered as an organizer for the UAW in a campaign to organize adjunct professors.

Education

Boston University Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, 2013
Denison University, B.A., magna cum laude, 2010

Bar and Court Admissions

Member, State Bar of New York, 2014
Member, State Bar of Massachusetts, 2013

Admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits.