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Workplace Motivational Techniques To Avoid

The Washington Post has a story you don't see every day:

No one really disputes that Chad Hudgens was waterboarded outside a Provo office park last May 29, right before lunch, by his boss.

There is also general agreement that Hudgens volunteered for the "team-building exercise," that he lay on his back with his head downhill, and that co-workers knelt on either side of him, pinning the young sales rep down while their supervisor poured water from a gallon jug over his nose and mouth.

And it's widely acknowledged that the supervisor, Joshua Christopherson, then told the assembled sales team, whose numbers had been lagging: "You saw how hard Chad fought for air right there. I want you to go back inside and fight that hard to make sales."

You really have to read the whole thing, which discusses the lawsuit that Hudgens has filed against his employer. Christopherson sounds sort of like a cross between John Yoo, Bill Lumbergh in Office Space, and Kevin Kline's character in A Fish Called Wanda:

Hudgens alleged that if the 10-person sales team went a day without a sale, members had to work the next day standing up; Christopherson took away their chairs. The team leader also threatened to draw a mustache in permanent marker on the face of sales people for "negativity," Hudgens said. Christopherson kept on his desk a piece of wood, "the 2-by-4 of motivation," he said.  ...

Christopherson did not know the term [waterboarding], either, Brunt said: "He thought it had something to do with water skiing."

He said Christopherson told the executives that he was inspired by reading about the Greek philosopher Socrates, who is said to have once held a student's head under water, then told him he must want to learn as badly as he wanted air.

Strangely enough, under Utah law, Christopherson's idiocy may work to his benefit, since Hudgens can only collect the damages he's seeking if he can demonstrate the employer's "conscious and deliberate intent" to inflict injury.

--Josh Patashnik