Emerald City Comicon Being Sued for Not Paying Volunteers
The use of non-paid volunteers and interns by conventions and businesses is a much debated topic and the legality of it all can be a fine line. There’s currently a lawsuit concerning judges for Magic: The Gathering over the issue. A new lawsuit has been filed by an individual concerning volunteers at Emerald City Comicon concerning the 2014 and 2015 shows. In 2015 the show was purchased by ReedPop and the convention promoter pays employees. The claimant seeking a Class Action designation citing there are at least 250 current and former volunteers “not paid for work performed.”
The ability to volunteer is competitive and those who do entered a contract with the convention making the lawsuit not quite as clear cut. There is compensation in the form of access to the convention. The contract doesn’t get ECCC off the hook, they could be found in violation of labor laws even with it.
Singh Rekhi, the attorney behind the case said:
In Washington, the base is that if you are an employer, you have to pay the minimum wage. We don’t believe that someone should be able to profit off unpaid labor, even if it’s something people love to do.
Some conventions get around labor issues as nonprofits where the rules aren’t as strict.
The impact of this case will have ramifications and have ripple effects throughout the convention circuit.