Emerald City Comicon sued for not paying ‘volunteers’

Jerry Brooks is initiating a class action suit against Emerald City Comicon. He alleges the convention broke Washington state employment laws. They used volunteers to do tasks normally performed by paid employees. The convention referred to these volunteers as “minions.”

Emerald City Comicon did not pay minions.
Emerald City Comicon sued for not paying 'volunteers' - Bent CornerLegally, they were not in a position where they could take advantage of an unpaid volunteer labor force. They are not a non-profit organization. If they applied for and were granted non-profit status from the IRS, they could have used volunteers as workers.

They didn’t do that.

Emerald City Comicon is now owned by ReedPop. ReedPop paid Emerald City Comicon minions at this year’s event.

I think paying volunteers for the 2106 event is troublesome for the defendants. If Emerald City Comicon paid 2016 minions for the work they performed, why didn’t they pay their earlier minion workforce? I also have to think at least some of the minions paid in 2016 were minions in past conventions doing the same duties.

Something else that may be trouble for the defendants is the plaintiff. There’s a Linkedin profile for a Jerry Brooks who listed volunteer work for Emerald City Comicon, specifically, that he supervised over 100 volunteers. If this is the same Jerry Brooks who filed the lawsuit, he may have detailed records of the work done by the minions.

In retrospect, I wonder if the creators of the con wish they called their employees something other than “minions.” I doubt that term would go over real well in a courtroom. It’s probably related to the animated movie Despicable Me, but it sounds extremely pejorative. This is especially true if you’ve never watched Despicable Me. 

4 thoughts on “Emerald City Comicon sued for not paying ‘volunteers’”

  1. This is why new Cons can’t get going. I hate stuff like this.
    You got free tickets to the event for a few hours if work, that is pretty damn good compensation. Hell minions were bumped to the head of some lines and got on the show floor early. This is a guy being greedy because ECCC was bought by a large company. A company that is for profit and pays all workers.

    1. ECCC was always for profit. It was never a 501.c non-profit like some comic cons.
      I assume ReedPop paid employees because they were far more familiar with employment laws. If the IRS had been doing it’s job and someone there noticed they weren’t accounting for payroll tax, this lawsuit never would have happened.

      1. Not sure if they were a non-profit or not. I was told at one point they were. Also he didn’t supervise over 100 people. His LinkedIn has him listed as the celebrity floor manger in 2011. They don’t have 100 people in that section. I help manage another, larger section and we don’t have 100 people. I have worked with this guy in the past.

        1. This should be an intern ship for him. He has gone on to start his own event company. So he got paid in buckets of knowledge and contacts. Contacts that might not want to work with him much longer.

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