PROVO, UTAH (CN) – A supervisor at Prosper, Inc., a “self-help and motivational coaching” firm, waterboarded an employee as an example to co-workers, Chad Hudgens claims in Utah County Court.
Hudgens says his boss, Joshua Christopherson, ordered co-workers “to hold Hudgens by the arms and legs … then slowly poured a gallon jug of water over Hudgen’s mouth and nostrils, thereby making it impossible for Hudgens (to breathe) for a sustained period of time. … Christopherson (then) 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.”
Hudgens wants punitive damages for assault and battery, emotional distress, interference with contract and wrongful firing.
He says Prosper’s human relations department was indifferent when he complained of being waterboarded, and that since being tortured he has suffered from “sleeplessness, anxiety and depression.”
Hudgens claims defendant Christopherson, “one of Prosper’s top income producers,”
was systematically abusive to employees, and that Prosper “knew of this conduct and encouraged it.”
Hudgens says Christopherson “would draw mustaches using permanent marker on employees who did not meet Prosper’s performance goals,” and patrolled the work are with a “large wooden paddle” that he would whack on tables and desks “in close proximity to team members. Prosper knew of this conduct and encouraged it.”
“On or about May 29, 2007, Christopherson asked for volunteers for a new motivational exercise,” the complaint states. “In his search for volunteers, Christopherson specifically challenged the loyalty and determination of team members. Christopherson did not disclose what the exercise was. In an effort to prove his loyalty and determination to Christopherson and Prosper, Hudgens volunteered.
“Christopherson marched his entire team to the top of a hill outside the office. He ordered Hudgens to lie down with his head facing downhill. He instructed the other team members to hold Hudgens by the arms and legs. Christopherson then slowly poured a gallon jug of water over Hudgens’ mouth and nostrils, thereby making it impossible for Hudgens for breath (sic) for a sustained period of time.
“Christopherson’s exercise is more commonly known as ‘water boarding,’ a controversial coercive interrogation technique which some people and governments consider torture. It is designed to, among other things, create panic and confusion in the subject by creating the impression in the subject that he is drowning.
“Christopherson directed Hudgens’ team members to hold him down even though Hudgens was struggling and resisting and was attempting to escape. 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.”
Hudgens is represented by Sean Egan of Provo.