Employee’s suit: Company used waterboarding to motivate workers

By | February 28, 2008

Employees suit Company used waterboarding to motivate workers

A supervisor at a motivational coaching business in Provo is accused of waterboarding an employee in front of his sales team to demonstrate that they should work as hard on sales as the employee had worked to breathe. In a lawsuit filed last month, former Prosper, Inc. salesman Chad Hudgens alleges his managers also allowed the supervisor to draw mustaches on employees’ faces, take away their chairs and beat on their desks with a wooden paddle “because it resulted in increased revenues for the company.”

Prosper president Dave Ellis responded that the allegations amount to “sensationalized” versions of events that have gone uncorroborated by Hudgens’ former coworkers.

“They just roll their eyes and say, ‘This is ridiculous . . . That’s not how it went down,’ ” Ellis said.

The suit claims that Hudgens’ team leader, Joshua Christopherson, asked for volunteers in May for “a new motivational exercise,” which he did not describe. Hudgens, who was 26 at the time, volunteered in order to “prove his loyalty and determination,” the suit claims.

Christopherson led the sales team to the top of a hill near the office and told Hudgens to lie down with his head downhill, the suit claims. Christopherson then told the rest of the team to hold Hudgens by the arms and legs. Christopherson poured water from a gallon jug over Hudgens’ mouth and nostrils – like the interrogation strategy known as “waterboarding” – and told the team members to hold Hudgens down as he struggled, the suit alleges.
“At the conclusion of his abusive demonstration, Christopherson told the team that he wanted them to work as hard on making sales as Chad had worked to breathe while he was being waterboarded,” the suit alleges.

Ellis said the exercise was a dramatization of a story in which a young man asks Socrates to become his teacher. Socrates responds by plunging the student’s head underwater and telling him he will learn once his desire for knowledge is as great as his desire to breathe. – sltrib

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