MVP042: Round Table – Wizards of the Coast Sued By MTG Judges

posted in: Community, Podcasts | 4

wizards lawsuit

The Wizards Lawsuit

In today's episode of the Manaverse Podcast Tom, Wayne and John discuss the details and ramifications of the recent announcement that WotC is being sued by four judges in California. The class action lawsuit claims that MTG judges have acted as Wizards employees in their capacity as judges. 

We explore how the wizards lawsuit could impact the community from a game store owner's perspective as well as the potential fallout for players of the game. It's a sticky situation for everyone involved and players and community organizers alike should be paying attention to how the Wizards lawsuit shakes out.

If you're operating a game store in the United States or Canada and have volunteers working for your business, this episode is one you won't want to miss.


The wizards lawsuit reaction

The Reddit thread

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Tom Traplin @tomtraplin

Wayne Mittlesteadt @dueling_grounds

John Coviello @shopofmagic

Travis Parry @thenerdstore

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  • Dan Collins

    Someone pointed me to your podcast and I think it was an interesting perspective. Maybe I will answer some of your questions:

    First – I have never signed a contract stating that I am not an employee, neither for Wizards nor for any independent TO. Pro Tour judges, GP Head Judges, Regional Coordinators, and some other high level roles do contract directly with WotC, but the majority of Level 2, and even some Level 3 judges, will never physically sign such a contract. In many cases we are referred to as independent contractors, but in the US, there are statutory requirements as to whether you are an employee or independent contractor, and if you think you have been mischaracterized, that is what the courts are for. This lawsuit is just about asking the question “are we employees or are we independent contractors”.

    Second – compensation for GPs is not secret, but it is contained in our internal scheduling site. It is set by each Tournament Organizer, and they will post their offer – including compensation, expectations, and any other event-specific details – 3-4 months out. Judges will apply, and the TO will accept some number of judges. For this year, the standard seems to be $275 for an L2 per day, $375 for an L3 per day. (We’re just now finally getting away from boxes and starting to get all-cash offers.) Some judges may be scheduled for an “extended shift” on Saturday to help maintain continuity on the main event, and some judges are part of agreements to work all of a specific TO’s GPs, both for extra comp, but this is the baseline. Hotels, flights, or other travel comp are not generally included. Since you mentioned GP Vegas, I’ll mention that that was a special case. Hotels were included in addition to a generous offer of cash, store credit, or product. On the other hand, it was also a four day event, with judges needed from Monday through Sunday to do a wide variety of jobs for long shifts, in Vegas, so they kind of needed to offer hotel rooms and a higher level of comp in order to attract enough judges.

    Third – the JCC is the Judge Conduct Committee. In the case of the SE judge suspensions, the judges involved were suspended *as players* by WotC, just as someone who was caught cheating a lot would be. A player suspension also prevents the individual from judging, since most player suspensions are for cheating, or aggressive behavior, or theft, or something that calls your integrity into question. The JCC stepped in to also suspend them from doing anything to represent themselves as a judge /outside/ of events. This group included a Regional Coordinator, the lead of the Exemplar program, and judges who were very active in other Program and Project work. Without the JCC suspension, they could have continued to do that work without judging events – but the WotC suspension was enough to prevent these judges from working events.

    Can’t speak to the lawsuit itself, but the complaint is a matter of public record.

  • Tomtraplin

    Hey Dan, thanks for going into such detail. Wayne, John and I tried to give the subject justice in the absence of a lot of the background details of what being a judge is actually like. Your info helps clarify what a judge’s work looks like which I find very valuable from an outsider’s perspective. I appreciate getting a peek into the inner workings of the judge organization. Maybe players would better appreciate the level of effort that their local judges put into supporting their community if they had the same info.

    No matter which way the lawsuit gets decided, judges and players alike should be paying attention.

  • Arthur Halavais

    There are a lot of aspects of judging that aren’t well known by the community at large. If you’re interested in getting more of that information or perspective, I’d be happy to answer questions or even hop on the cast as an individual who’s current “day job” is staffing events.

  • Tomtraplin

    Hey Arthur, I’m intrigued. Hit me up with an email and tell me more about staffing events. It could make an interesting topic for the show.