Emerald City Comicon sued for not paying ‘volunteers’

Jerry Brooks, a formerĀ Emerald City Comicon volunteer, is initiating a class action suit against the con, alleging the convention broke Washington state employment laws. Volunteers, referred to as “minions” by the convention’s organizers, performed tasks normally performed by paid employees.

Emerald City Comicon minions were not paid.

Legally, Emerald City Comicon was not in a position where it could take advantage of a volunteer labor force. They weren’t a non-profit organization. If they applied for and were granted non-profit status from the IRS, it could have used volunteers as worker bees.

They didn’t do that.

Emerald City Comicon is now owned by ReedPop, the Walmart of comic conventions. Reportedly, ReedPop paid Emerald City Comicon minions at this year’s event.

I’m no lawyer, but I would think that fact would be problematic for the defendants. If the 2016 minions were paid for the work they performed, why were minions in prior years not paid?

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, comprehensive records of the work done by the minions he supervised.

In retrospect, I wonder if the creators of Emerald City Comicon wish they had called their employees something other than “minions.” I doubt that term would go over real well in a courtroom deciding if you should have paid your employees or not. It’s probably related to the animated movie Despicable Me, but it sounds extremely pejorative.

Author: Rick Rottman

This is my personal blog. It's where I write about things when I feel like it.

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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