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. Forbes recently named her to its inaugural list of America’s Top 200 Lawyers (2024). 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 25 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. More than a decade ago, she pioneered litigation 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 seven landmark victories at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Some of her most notable cases include victories against Starbucks, FedEx, and American Airlines. Fifteen years ago, she began the legal strategy of filing mass arbitrations against employers who use arbitration agreements to protect themselves from class actions. 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. In 2022, she ran to be Massachusetts Attorney General, a campaign in which she was endorsed by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and many other elected officials and labor unions.


Trailblazing Women In Labor Law – Shannon Liss-Riordan
Law360 | March, 2022

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

Labor Litigator
Harvard Magazine | March – April, 2017

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


America’s Top 200 Lawyers, Forbes (2024) (one of 5 plaintiffs’ employment attorneys)

Top Women of Law, Circle of Excellence, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (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

Patel v. 7-Eleven, Inc., 489 Mass. 356 (2022) (Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that franchisees may be employees for purposes of the Wage Act, overturning district court decision that held federal law to preempt Massachusetts law)

Lohnn v. International Business Machines, Inc. (IBM), C.A. No. 21-cv-6379 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 4, 2022), motion to stay denied, No. 22-32 (2d Cir. Feb. 8, 2022) (ordering the unsealing of documents in age discrimination case that IBM attempted to keep hidden through arbitration confidentiality agreement, including highly incriminating emails in which executives disparaged older workers as “dinobabies” and plotted how to make them “an extinct species”)

Lawson v. GrubHub, No. 18-15386 (9th Cir. 2021) (reinstating case challenging GrubHub’s misclassification of drivers in first and only case to date to go to trial against “gig economy” company)

Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising Int’l, 10 Cal.5th 944 (2021) (California Supreme Court decided that landmark Dynamex ABC test applies retroactively); 986 F.3d 1106 (9th Cir. 2021), 923 F.3d 575 (9th Cir. 2019) (in a now 14-year-old case, holding that landmark Dynamex decision applies 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)

Medina v. Equilon Enterprises, Inc., 68 Cal.App.5th 868 (Cal. Ct. App. 2021) (Court of Appeal reversed summary judgment for Shell, holding that it could be liable for wage violations committed by intermediary entity)

Rittmann v., Inc., 2020 WL 4814142 (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)

Sample trial victories

Nnebe v. Daus, No. 06-cv-4991-RJS (S.D. N.Y. Nov. 16, 2023) (test case trial for 10 plaintiff New York taxi drivers in certified class action who suffered due process violations based on not being able to challenge their license suspension due to an arrest)

Ordono v. Marriott International, Inc., No. CGC-16-550454 (Cal. Sup. Ct. Apr. 2023) ($12 million judgment awarded to class of hotel waitstaff, in the first case to go to trial in California challenging employer’s failure to pay employees the total proceeds of “service charges”, which court held that reasonable customers believed were gratuities)

Lawson v. GrubHub, No. 15-cv-05128-JSC (N.D. Cal. Mar. 2023) (in the first trial ever addressing whether a gig worker was misclassified as an independent contractor, court held that GrubHub driver should have been classified as an employee)

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)


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, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits.