“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]