Emerald City Comicon ‘Volunteer’ Lawsuit Settled

The legality of volunteering for “for profit” conventions is a complicated issue, and one that’s caused some headaches for con organizers. Notably, as we reported last year, a class action lawsuit was filed against Emerald City Comicon over their ‘minions’ (the term the con used for convention workers) not being paid while working for the con’s old, pre-ReedPop acquisition management.

Well, it looks like that lawsuit has now been settled.

In the agreement, Emerald City Comicon has agreed to pay out $493,227.84. That number includes the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees ($123,300), $5000 to the plaintiff, and additional funds to pay an administrator to dispense the money. The rest will be paid out to people who worked for Emerald City Comicon in 2014 and 2015, and applications and necessary forms can be found here.

As you’d expect, Emerald City Comicon doesn’t admit to any wrong doing in the case. So while the threat of a lawsuit does seem like an obvious deterrent to for profit shows using unpaid labor, it doesn’t really change the legal playing field at all. The writing on the wall seems obvious though — if you’re running a for profit show, you need to pay your workforce.

Trae Dorn

Trae Dorn has been staffing conventions for over twenty years, and is a co-founder of Wisconsin’s longest running Anime convention No Brand Con. Trae also writes and draws the webcomics UnCONventional and The Chronicles of Crosarth, which leads many to ask when the hell they have time to actually do anything anymore. Trae says they have the time because they “do it all quite poorly.”