By Bryan Preston - pjmedia.com|
In the past few weeks, we've learned that Coke and UnderArmour subjected employees to bizarre, woke training that told them to "try to be less white." One might think that that's as bad as corporate training could get.
Panda Express in California asks corporate America to hold its beer.
The Boston Herald reports that a former employee is suing Panda Express for degrading training:
A former employee of a Panda Express in Santa Clarita alleges she was required to strip down to her underwear and hug a partially clad co-worker during a "cult-like ritual" at a 2019 training seminar sponsored by the company as a prerequisite to promotion.
This could cross from a civil case over into sexual assault. The Herald doesn't name the plaintiff in the suit for that reason.
This is Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy, whose website generically promises "The Change In You Will Change the World." All these seminar firms promise some version of that. The website also offers this incoherent mess, which begs an obvious question: Why would any competent person even consider hiring them?
The 23-year-old woman is suing Panda Restaurant Group, headquartered in Rosemead, and Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy in Pico Rivera for sexual battery, a hostile work environment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
"Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy began with a vision and a statement powerful. That as the declaration is made, the action is taken Which was done with love and passion. With that love and passion creating basic and advanced programs and Leaderships To prepare leaders both in their community, in their jobs and their homes Alive continues to thrive on our dedication and passion given to each individual person and that is why great doors continue to open in our walk. Always remember the change in me will change the world."
They need an editor, stat. The incompetence displayed just in that text suggests whoever hired them either didn't vet them or has some other motive for hiring them, or hired them based on someone else's recommendation.
These seminars are never cheap. They come with the direct cost of hiring the firm, usually booking conference space at a hotel or conference center, meals or at least coffee and snacks, and the time that employees would be working, instead devoted to the seminars. These seminars can run from a half-day to multiple days.
Hopefully, the court case will discover what's going on.
The complaint alleges the seminar was bizarre and quickly devolved into psychological abuse.
From there it got worse.
At the start, attendees were told to sit down and not talk, and were left in isolation for a full hour before a man stormed in, yelling in Spanish and berating them for sitting there and doing nothing, when that is exactly what they had been instructed to do, says the complaint.
The man, an Alive Seminars employee, loudly proclaimed that the attendees were "nothing" and "don't matter," and berated them individually, the suit says. "The overall effect was that of a particularly nasty drill sergeant.
Seminar participants were prohibited from using their cellphones, there was no clock in the room and the doors and windows were all covered with black cloth.
"The atmosphere resembled less a self-improvement seminar than a site for off the-books interrogation of terrorist suspects," the complaint alleges. "The sensory isolation and intimidation was reinforced by constant yelling and verbal abuse by seminar staff, creating an atmosphere of fear in the room. Nevertheless, most attendees, including plaintiff, felt that they had no choice but to remain because they were sent to the seminar by Panda Express and told that their opportunity for promotion would depend on completion of the seminar."
When the seminar continued on July 13, 2019, the woman allegedly was forced to strip down to her underwear under the guise of trust building.
You can see the excuses the firm will make to justify this: We're presenting them with scenarios of oppression and unethical conduct. But the training, if the allegations are accurate, is subjecting unwitting employees, who have no choice but to be there if they want to progress in their careers, to degrading treatment. By the way, employees in this case had to pay for the training out of their own pockets according to the case files.
"Plaintiff - stripped almost naked in front of strangers and co-workers - was extremely uncomfortable but pressed on because she knew it was her only chance at a promotion," says the lawsuit. "Meanwhile, Alive Seminars staff were openly ogling the women in their state of undress, smiling, and laughing."
The exercise culminated when the victims and other participants had to stand up to yell about their inner struggles until everyone else in the group believed them.
"The last male participant had some difficulty 'convincing' the others and, as a result, broke down in tears," the suit says. "Plaintiff was told to stand up and go to the middle of the room with the male participant, where they were forced to 'hug it out,' wearing nothing but their underwear. Plaintiff was humiliated but did as she was told."
As time went on, the seminar more and more resembled a cult ritual, the complaint alleges.
"Alive Seminars staff proceeded to dim the lights," says the suit. "Plaintiff and the other attendees were instructed to stand up and close their eyes, pretending that a light from above would come down and take all the 'negative energy' out of them, then pretend that a hole opened up in the ground and swallowed the 'negative energy.' While this was happening, one of the Alive Seminars staff had a cell phone with the light on, recording plaintiff in her state of undress."
Attendees, the lawsuit alleges, were confined in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
"If plaintiff wanted to use the restroom, someone from the Alive Seminars staff would stand outside the restroom door," says the suit. "When another participant ran into the restroom to throw up, Alive Seminars staff ran after her. Another male participant was only given a small trash can to throw up in and was forced to do it in front of all the other attendees."
The victim went to the seminar hopeful and optimistic about her future with Panda Express but left three days later "scarred and downtrodden." Soon after, she quit her job because of emotional distress.
The suit alleges Panda Express "did not care about plaintiff's experience at Alive Seminars or that she had been humiliated in front of her co-workers. Her chances of promotion were destroyed. plaintiff's working conditions had become intolerable and Panda Express had no interest in addressing the situation."
If the allegations are accurate, it's criminal, and all who perpetrated it should be prosecuted.
Corporations may be less woke than just run by staff who follow what they're told is on trend. A few wokes in positions of influence across the HR world could well persuade thousands within corporations that they have to subject their employees to these trainings or risk lawsuits.
A sane country would put a stop to all these abusive corporate trainings right now, and the corporate training seminar industry would be investigated. It's a multi-billion-dollar industry that's worked its way across corporate America and federal, state, and local governments - teaching divisive doctrine for profit.
Perhaps this court case can start turning over enough rocks to give corporate HR departments pause and perform the due diligence they're supposed to - and protect their employees, not just the corporations or agencies they work for.