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Waterboarding: The Newest Sales Training Technique

Holy cow, folks. By now you all know the Firstline saga, but what you don’t know is how cult-like the sales ‘training’ was from on high. Weekly DVDs, setting everyone against each other, putting impossible goals in front of salesmen and then berating groups that underperformed — never mind that they were dropped into a city that had specific laws against selling security systems door to door.

Well, hold onto your hats, because this is incredible.

Chad Hudgens, a former employee of Prosper, Inc. a company which focuses on teaching students real estate sales techniques, is suing his boss and the company. His lawsuit accuses his boss, Joshua Christopherson of waterboarding him in front of other employees while they held him down.

Sounds incredible, almost fanciful, yes? The company is not denying it. They admit that it happened.

Get that clear: This company admits that they waterboarded an employee as part of a training session. From the Daily Herald:

Hudgens, 26, of Provo, said Christopherson asked for a volunteer for a motivational exercise in May 2007, but did not say what the exercise would be. Christopherson led Hudgens and the eight other members of the sales team to a hill outside the building and told Hudgens to lie on his back with his head facing down, Hudgens said.

Hudgens said Christopherson told the other employees to hold him down and not let him up, no matter how hard he struggled, then poured nearly the entire contents of a one-gallon jug of water onto his mouth and nose. Hudgens said he felt like he was drowning and struggled to free himself.

“I’m trying to squirm, get out of this, no one’s letting go,” Hudgens said. “What [Christopherson] said after that was, ‘Now guys, you see how hard Chad was struggling for a breath of air, how hard he was trying to breathe? That’s how hard I want you to go get back on the phones and make some sales.’

The company’s response:

George Brunt, a member of Prosper’s legal team, said Hudgens volunteered with full knowledge of what would be done and that the activity was not company-sanctioned. Brunt also objected to describing the incident as waterboarding.

“Waterboarding implies some form of torture, and this was a completely voluntary activity,” Brunt said. “It was explained to him.”

I don’t know about YOU, but whether Hudgens volunteered for an unknown sales exercise or not, waterboarding IS torture, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter whether you volunteer. Who expects their employer to torture them in a voluntary training exercise, after all?

And after all of that, and after filing a complaint with the company’s HR department, nothing was done. Not a frickin’ thing. Zero, zip, nada. An employee complains about abuse at the hands of their superior, abuse that is classified as torture, and the company does nothing?

There is a pattern that originates in Utah. A pattern of recruiting and then abusing college students to make money for the father company. There are stories upon stories posted in the comments to my Firstline posts about how salesmen were treated. There are stories of other companies, other abuses, other flagrant immoral, illegal activity that should not be tolerated or allowed to stand. Period.

Prosper describes itself as a coaching business. Waterboarding an employee is not coaching, it’s coercion.

What is it going to take to stop these clowns? Seriously, this is just beyond all comprehension.

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