Company Sued For Waterboarding Salesman

“We’re not the mean waterboarding company that people think we are,” says the general counsel for Prosper Inc., a company that sells “coaching packages” over the telephone. They’re being sued by a former employee who says he was held down as his boss emptied a gallon jug of water into his mouth and nose as part of a team-building exercise. Our tipster Rachael writes that it’s like “an episode of The Office gone horribly wrong.”

Prosper Inc.—where slow sellers are put on two-week notice, the supervisor keeps a “2×4 of motivation” on his desk, and the team leader “threatened to draw a mustache in permanent marker on the face of sales people for ‘negativity’”—doesn’t sound like a healthy place to work even on good days. But Hudgens was somehow surprised by the severity of the “team-building exercise” this time around.

Christopherson called the men into the break room and announced, “We’re going to do an exercise.” He asked for a volunteer.
 
Hudgens raised his hand. [Never raise your hand, Hudgens! First rule!]
 
“Keep in mind,” he said, “the last time we did a team-building exercise outside, we did an egg toss.”
 
Prosper maintains that Christopherson explained what would happen next, and Hudgens knew what he was in for, even handing his cellphone and keys to co-workers before lying down. Hudgens insists he had no clue.
 
“So they held me down,” Hudgens said, “and the next thing I know, Josh has a gallon jug of water and he’s pouring it on my face. I can’t scream because the water’s going down my throat.
 
“And halfway through he stopped for a second. I tried to mumble the words, ‘Stop, knock it off.’ I tried to get that out and he continued to pour.”
 
“I’m not getting any air,” Hudgens said. “Toward the end, I’m starting to black out. I’m getting very dizzy, light-headed. The sensation that’s going through my head is, ‘I’m going to drown.’ “
 
That is the oft-described whole point of waterboarding, though Hudgens said he was not then familiar with the word. He said that what he told a friend in the human relations office two hours later, after “coughing, choking, mucus” was: “My team just tried to kill me.”

Prosper’s weirdly casual general counsel adds, “I don’t know if this would even be an issue if it weren’t for Guantanamo Bay.” Yeah, Guantanamo Bay, you ruined waterboarding for team building exercises everywhere.
 
Boss’s bizarre ‘team-building’ leads to lawsuit [The Fayetteville Observer]

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  1. rachaeljean says:

    Woohoo! My tip made it to print, yaaay! :p

    Srsly. Look for this in a few weeks on The Office. I can just see it. Michael & Dwight holding down Andy, who is trying to be positive about it.

    lol? Heh.

  2. artki says:

    That’s not even waterboarding! In waterboarding, the water doesn’t get into the airway. The morons at Prosper actually came close to DROWNING the guy.

  3. humphrmi says:

    I don’t know if this would even be an issue if it weren’t for Guantanamo Bay.

    No, to be accurate it wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the Romans and Medieval times and Middle Ages. “If it weren’t for other people that used torture, this wouldn’t be an issue!”

    Seriously, get a life General Council.

  4. mmstk101 says:

    good lord . . . and here i was thinking that I was drowning in paperwork . . .

    /ducks and runs

  5. toastydoc says:

    I wonder exactly how this would qualify as Team Building. I can see the manager now;
    “What we are seeing here is that when you stop moving sales, you drown, much like Christopherson is doing right now. Next up, Shultz will give a safety briefing.”

  6. Bet he’s p[retty damn motivated now though.

  7. legotech says:

    Our last team building exercise was a scavenger hunt at Disneyland…I <3 my job :)

  8. Concerned_Citizen says:

    This is not an episode of the office going horribly wrong. This is the type of things that would happen in a normal episode of the office. For that watch, remember when he kidnapped the pizza boy?

  9. B says:

    Sure, we all condemn waterboarding now. But what if the only way to prevent the next terrorist attack is by waterboarding some executive in a badly run “coaching packagages” company?

  10. Ex_EA_Slave says:

    Always Be Closing…suddenly a set of steak knives don’t look so bad.

  11. tricky69 says:

    It doesn’t “simulate” drowning. It *is* drowning.

  12. I don’t know if this would even be an issue if it weren’t for Guantanamo Bay.

    Never mind the fact it could be construed as attempted murder.

  13. BalknChain says:

    Gitmo also ruined naked salesmen pyramid day at work.

  14. BalknChain says:

    On a serious note, why did he bother with HR? If it happened exactly as he says he should have gone straight to the police and filed assault charges, minimum.

  15. I was waiting for the description to end with, “I immediately stood up and slugged Josh with what little energy and oxygen was left in my body before passing out.” That’s how I woulda responded to this, not by becoming a better teamplayer or salesperson.

  16. B1663R says:

    ok, improper training in waterboarding is NEVER good.

    for the kid’s at home here’s how to do it!

    waterboarding is designed to create the SENSATION of drowning, causing your gag reflex to kick in, once that happens, your airway automatically collapses to prevent water from entering the lungs. (same way people suffocate in fires, the airway collapses to keep the hot air from damaging your lungs)

    anyway, here’s how to do it.
    1. ensure that the “volunteer” is inverted (feet ABOVE the head)on a table.
    2. place either a towel or plastic wrap over the mouth and nose to prevent water from entering
    3. pour water in a steady stream over the towel for a predetermined set of time. (usually 45 to 60 seconds)
    4. ask your question, if you didn’t like the answer repeat steps 1 to 3.

    an average US soldier can endure 2 minutes tops, the longest anyone has held out is around 5 minutes or so. (some hot-shot terrorist type)

    LEGAL:
    this information is provided for amusement purposes only. B1663R does not condone the act of torture on any person or animal. any attempts at reenactment may result in serious injury or death. DO NOT PERFORM AT ALL!!!!

  17. B1663R says:

    WOW sometimes i creep myself out… like , i seriously gotta stop reading Wikipedia.

  18. DogTown says:

    Are we sure this isn’t actually the report about the White House Torture Techniques Team building effort between the Smirking Chimp, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice, that the chimp recently admitted he had approved?

  19. DogTown says:

    Are we sure this isn’t actually the report about the White House Torture Techniques Selection Team effort between the Smirking Chimp, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice, that the Chimp recently admitted he had approved?

  20. StevieD says:

    Oh good grief. The whole office of employees needs to be fired. To participate in such an action or just stand around and watch is just horrible.

  21. ClankBoomSteam says:

    Don’t worry, people — it’s just an “alternative motivation technique”. No harm no foul, right?

    Right?

    Hello?

  22. ClankBoomSteam says:

    Oh, and how much do you wanna bet that the phrase “coffee is for closers” has been uttered more than a few times at Prosper?

  23. chutch says:

    I’ve worked for some crappy bosses, but at least none have ever committed attempted (murder) motivation.

  24. The Bambino says:

    Unless he has video evidence I call bullshit. What a passive girly-man!!!

  25. Crrusherr says:

    maybe the dude just stunk real bad so the office got together and decided to give him a bath

  26. StoneKitten says:

    “I don’t know if the government should do it or not,” Hudgens said. “But I can tell you firsthand, because it happened to me, it definitely works.

    “They didn’t tell me it was going to happen, but if they did, holy cow, I would’ve told them whatever they wanted me to tell them.” >>>>>

    cough ::pussy:: cough
    At least he’ll get lots of lib loving and tongue.
    Easy path to poon and a payday.
    IDK, this story doesn’t shock me. I thought that’s how they roll in Utah.

  27. StoneKitten says:

    And Chads tend to be tools so I have a dearth of sympathy on this.

  28. StevieD says:

    Got any proof?

    ‘Cause your proof will be the testimony of the idiots that stood around and watched this crap going on. Just watching should be grounds for termination.

  29. chartrule says:

    if that’s what this company does to build teams – I’d hate to see what their discipline for breaking the rules is like

  30. cothebadger says:

    @rachaeljean: “an episode of The Office gone horribly wrong.” Isn’t that redundant? ;)

  31. Wimpkins says:

    I would so get rich of this…

    Sue.

  32. Angryrider says:

    Weird, I think I heard this before…
    Oh wait!
    [consumerist.com]

  33. BigElectricCat says:

    If you’ve got to waterboard your salesmen in order to motivate them, then you need new salesmen. Either that or your company’s products and/or services must really suck.

  34. EyeHeartPie says:

    Maybe the team building exercise was to see how many of this guy’s teammates would help him when they say him drowning, and how many would stand around and laugh at the funny drowning man?

  35. EyeHeartPie says:

    Maybe the purpose of the team building exercise was to see how many of this guy’s teammates would help him when he was drowning and how many would stand around laughing at the funny drowning man?

  36. Wormfather says:

    @Ex_EA_Slave: “Do I have your attention? I know I do because it’s either fuck or walk.”

  37. ElizabethD says:

    Fraternity hazing for grownups, with life-or-death stakes. Lovely.

    Hudgens should be filing charges with the police RIGHT NOW.

  38. CRSpartan01 says:

    If you think that’s bad, try waterboarding with syrup!!

  39. vladthepaler says:

    I can’t imagine how that could possibly be part of a team-building exercise.

  40. dirk1965 says:

    I would’ve literally killed the guy (after I kicked him in the nuts) after being let up and claim self defense.

  41. girly says:

    As others have noted, I don’t see how this was waterboarding.

    It sounds like an attempted drowning.

    And by the sound of it, Prosper doesn’t deny that it happened, it just sounds like they claim the guy agreed to it.

    Just goes to show you that some people (especially corporate leadership) place more of an importance on business than people’s lives.

  42. girly says:

    His coworkers shouldn’t have stood for this either.

  43. nick_r says:

    Team Building Exercise ’99!

    (Bonus points to anyone who gets that.)

  44. Mr. Gunn says:

    B1663R: Way over the line. Unintentional, but attempted drowning nonetheless. I’d have these assholes over a barrel if they did that to me.

  45. nadmonk says:

    Next week we break out the rack, so think about sorts of collaboration skills you want to focus on.

  46. clank-o-tron says:

    @girly: Self defense is only valid when you’re in active fear for your life. If you collapse the guy’s trachea while he’s doing this, it’s self defense. If he lets you up and you kill him, that’s homocide. If he then tries to do it again, THAT’s self defense.

    TMYK.

  47. girly says:

    @clank-o-tron: dirk was the one that would kill a guy.

    I’m pretty wimpy.

  48. girly says:

    Although I guess this indicates my userid aura must be strong and bleed into the posts around me.

    ;)

  49. LUV2CattleCall says:

    @legotech:

    Should’ve gone to Block Land…

    [www.tv.com]