Shannon Liss-Riordan

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Shannon Liss-Riordan
Shannon Liss

Alma materHarvard College (B.A.)
Harvard Law School (JD)
OccupationLabor attorney
Home townMeyerland, Texas, U.S.

Shannon Liss-Riordan (née Liss; born 1969) is an American labor attorney. She is best known for her class-action cases against companies such as Uber, FedEx, and Starbucks.[1] Liss-Riordan was a candidate in the 2020 United States Senate election in Massachusetts, running in the Democratic Primary for a seat currently held by Senator Ed Markey.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Shannon Liss grew up in Meyerland, Texas.[3] She graduated with a bachelor's degree from Harvard College in 1990, after which she went to work for New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug.[4] An activist during the early 1990s and the feminist movement, Liss-Riordan co-founded the Third Wave Direct Action Coalition with writer Rebecca Walker[5][6] to "mobilize young women." [7] She was coordinator of a seminar at Hunter College in 1992, which featured lawyer Anita Hill and other feminist leaders.[8]

While a first-year student at Harvard Law School, in 1994 Liss organized an auction that featured a copy of the Constitution signed by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a copy of the Roe v. Wade decision signed by Justice Harry Blackmun and other items.[9] She also wrote a column in the law school newspaper.[10] In 1996,[1] Liss graduated from Harvard Law School.[11]


In 2009, Liss-Riordan co-founded the firm Lichten & Liss-Riordan, where she has filed suits against a number of tech companies in the "gig economy",[12] including FedEx,[13] Lyft, Uber[14] and Amazon.[15] Other suits were filed against GrubHub, Doordash, Square, Inc., Caviar, PostMates, Shyp, Washio, Handy, Homejoy, and InstaCart.[16][17] Many of these cases involved the question of whether the companies improperly classified their workers as independent contractors.[18][19] She has also filed labor suits alleging tips, fees, or wages were improperly taken from workers at restaurants,[20][21][22] strip clubs,[23][24] American Airlines,[25][26] and Starbucks.[27][28]

In 2015, the Wall Street Journal called her "one of the most influential—and controversial—figures in Silicon Valley."[11] Politico included her in 2016 on the "Politico 50" which is list of the people who are "transforming American politics."[29]

Liss-Riordan is best known for leading a class action case on behalf of Massachusetts and California drivers against ride-sharing company Uber, filed in 2013 and known as O'Connor v. Uber.[30][31] The case argued that Uber drivers were misclassified as independent contractors, which the company had done to avoid giving the drivers employer-sponsored benefits and insurance. In 2016, Liss-Riordan advocated for a controversial settlement estimated totaling up to $100 million; when nine different attorneys representing drivers argued against the deal, Liss-Riordan filed to reduce her firm's fee by $10 million for the proposed settlement.[32] About thirty drivers filed objections to the settlement or sought to remove Liss-Riordan as the leader of the class action lawsuits.[33] A final settlement for $20 million in 2019 covered 13,600 drivers, after an appeals court ruling reduced the class from the 385,000 drivers covered by Liss-Riordan's original filing.[34] She later defended her choice to settle the case, after some drivers were dissatisfied with still being classified as independent contractors.[35]

2020 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

On May 20, 2019, Liss-Riordan announced that she was running for the United States Senate for Massachusetts as a Democrat in the 2020 election.[36] She told journalist Jim Braude that she was inspired by Representative Ayanna Pressley's win against an incumbent congressman.[37] Liss-Riordan reported raising $1.1 million by the Federal Election Commission deadline on June 30, 2019, which included a $1 million personal loan from Liss-Riordan and $145,481 in individual contributions.[38] On January 17, 2020, she withdrew from the race.[39]


  1. ^ a b Levintova, Hannah (December 30, 2015). "Meet 'Sledgehammer Shannon,' the lawyer who is Uber's worst nightmare". Mother Jones. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  2. ^ "Boston Labor Lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan Launches U.S. Senate Bid Against Markey". WBUR. May 20, 2019. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  3. ^ Kapp, Diana (May 18, 2016). "Uber's Worst Nightmare". San Francisco Magazine. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  4. ^ Martino, Alyssa (July 15, 2013). "The Worker's Champion". CommonWealth Magazine. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  5. ^ Seigal, Jessica (August 3, 1992). "In Your Face". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 4, 2019 – via
  6. ^ "Women on Move for Votes". Daily News. July 1, 1992. Retrieved August 4, 2019 – via
  7. ^ Bazeley, Alex (April 21, 2016). "Third-Wave Feminism". Washington Square News. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  8. ^ Sutton, Larry (March 9, 1992). "Anita Hill to Address Feminists on Sexual Harassment". Daily News. Retrieved August 4, 2019 – via
  9. ^ "In Brief". The Transcript. March 18, 1994. Retrieved August 4, 2019 – via
  10. ^ Deborah Snyder, "Simpson Book Is a 'Must Read' at Harvard," Tampa Bay (Florida) Times, October 27, 1994
  11. ^ a b Silverman, Lauren Weber and Rachel Emma. "Meet the Boston Lawyer Who's Putting Uber on Trial". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  12. ^ Poletti, Therese. "The lawyer looking to kill the 'gig economy'". MarketWatch. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  13. ^ "FedEx workers' claim allowed to proceed". Reuters. March 5, 2007. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  14. ^ Carson, Biz (September 24, 2015). "The Lawyer Who Took on Uber Is Going After More Startups". Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  15. ^ "Amazon delivery drivers sue company over job status". The Seattle Times. October 5, 2016. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  16. ^ "Labor Lawsuits Filed Against Homejoy, Postmates, Try Caviar". Time. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  17. ^ Johnston, Katie (December 23, 2012). "Lawyer fights for low-wage workers' rights - The Boston Globe". Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  18. ^ Dawson, Gloria (December 29, 2015). "Meet the Lawyer Challenging the Food-Delivery Industry". Eater. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  19. ^ "FedEx Misclassified Drivers As Contractors, Judge Rules - Law360". Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  20. ^ "Harvard Club of Boston Sued by Waitstaff". Harvard Magazine. November 23, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  21. ^ Lewis, Diane E. (July 27, 2006). "Steak House May Be Liabe for $2.5m". Boston Globe. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  22. ^ Johnston, Katie (January 17, 2014). "Workers sue TGI Fridays for wage violations - The Boston Globe". Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  23. ^ White, Jeremy B. "Strip clubs and Big Tech find common cause in California labor fight". Politico PRO. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  24. ^ Fox, Emily Jane (March 21, 2013). "Strippers vs. club owners in fight over labor rights". CNNMoney. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  25. ^ Saltzman, Jonathan (February 5, 2010). "Skycaps across US join suit over tips". Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  26. ^ Johnston, Katie (March 7, 2014). "Skycap who was fired after lawsuit awarded nearly $1m". Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  27. ^ "Grande tips payoff for Starbucks baristas". Boston Herald. October 10, 2013. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  28. ^ "Starbucks Baristas Tip Fight Intensifies". ABC News. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  29. ^ "#40: Shannon Liss-Riordan – The POLITICO 50". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  30. ^ Carson, Biz. "This lawyer fought for FedEx drivers and strippers. Now she's standing up for Uber drivers". Business Insider. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  31. ^ Alba, Davey (August 7, 2015). "Uber's Desperate Fight to Avoid a Massive Class Action Suit". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  32. ^ "Under Pressure, Lawyer For Uber Drivers Slashes Her Fees". Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  33. ^ Adams, Dan (May 23, 2016). "Attorney for Uber drivers slams critics of $100 million settlement - The Boston Globe".
  34. ^ Conger, Kate (March 12, 2019). "Uber Settles Drivers' Lawsuit for $20 Million". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  35. ^ Bhuiyan, Johana (April 30, 2016). "Why the Uber drivers' lawyer settled their fight to become employees". Vox. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  36. ^ "Boston Labor Lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan Launches U.S. Senate Bid Against Markey". Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  37. ^ "Shannon Liss-Riordan On Her Challenge To Sen. Ed Markey". News. May 24, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  38. ^ "LISS-RIORDAN, SHANNON MS. - Candidate overview". Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  39. ^