Sales rep launches lawsuit after ‘team-building’ exercise at Utah company leaves him traumatized

Chad Hudgens likely never thought he would discover the effectiveness of waterboarding first hand. Moreover, he likely never thought he would make this discovery at work as a sales person for Prosper Inc.

Volunteering for an unknown “team-building exercise”, Hudgens was laid on his back in front of his coworkers in the company boardroom where his manager, with the help of other staff, held him down while water was poured over his mouth and nose. The exercise was to show that to be an effective salesperson, one must have to fight for the sale as hard as Hudgens fought for air.

It appears that the waterboarding incident was the last straw for Mr. Hudgens.  He is seeking damages against his former employer and has a laundry list of unreasonable “coaching” tactics used by Prosper’s Sales Manager, which include forcing salespeople to stand at if they fail to meet sale quotas for the previous day.  The Manager also threatened to draw a moustache in permanent marker on the face of sales people for “negativity,” Hudgens said.  Hudgens’ lawyer has characterized the tactics used by Prosper’s sales manager as “torture”.  Counsel for Prosper disputes this, calling Christopherson (the Sales Manager) a “nice, sensitive guy.”

Hudgens’ case is based in Utah.  In Canada, the doctrine of constructive dismisal applies, which states, among other things, that it is a implied term of the employment contract that employee’s will be treated with civility, decency, respect and dignity.  The breach of this term, on an objective basis, may permit the employee the resign and then sue for wrongful dismissal damages, having been able to consider the employer’s actions as tantamount to dismissal.

The full article, found today in the Toronto Star, can be found here.

Daniel A. Lublin is a Toronto Employment Lawyer specializing in the law of wrongful dismissal.  He can be reached at [email protected] or visit