Panda Express Staff Forced To Strip in ‘Cult-Like’ Team-Building Seminar

What in the world is going on Panda Express? Are you a fraternity? What kind of sick hazing is this? Apparently, a California woman who worked at a Panda Express restaurant located in Santa Clarita has sued her former employer, claiming that she was forced to strip to her underwear and had to partially hug her co-worker as part of a bizarre ‘cult-like’ team-building seminar.”

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Now, before I go on with the rest of the story, I have to say this is truly a nightmare. One, because nobody wants to expose their underwear to anyone, especially if it’s laundry day. Two, to me this can be categorized as psychological abuse, sexual harassment and/or hostile work environment. Off the bat, if I was a judge and this was brought to my court, I would automatically make that Panda Express shut down and pay this woman for her emotional damage.

“Cult-Like” Team Building Seminar

Anyways, let’s continue. According to the Los Angeles Daily News the 23-year-old plaintiff is now suing Panda Restaurant Group and Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy. In her complaint, Jennifer Spargifiore alleges she was forced to suffer sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and sexual harassment. The woman further said she was forced to leave her position as a direct result of the very strange team-building exercises.

The Southern California woman recalled how the four-day seminar course had participants in a heavy atmosphere of fear. The attendees were purposely subjected to cult-like pressure and isolation techniques. The lawsuit states, “The attendees were prohibited from using their cell phones. There was no clock in the room; the doors and windows were covered with black cloth.” It continued, “The atmosphere resembled less a self-improvement training seminar than a site for off-the-books interrogation of terrorist suspects, The sensory isolation and intimidation was reinforced by constant yelling and verbal abuse by seminar staff, creating an atmosphere of fear in the room.”

As part of one of the many exercises, Spargifiore and several other Panda Express employees were then encouraged to strip to their undergarments, and then they were told to hug or otherwise make skin-to-skin contact with their colleagues. The lawsuit reported, “the game” was intended to promote trust-building. It noted, “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. Meanwhile, Alive Seminars staff were openly ogling the women in their state of undress, smiling, and laughing.”

Panda Express Staff Forced to Strip

While they were undressing, the employees were then told to stand in front of our co-workers and yell about their inner struggles until they could convince everyone of their so-called pain and negative energy. The last male participant had difficulty convincing everyone else and Spargifiore was ordered to stand up and hug it out with him even though they were both in their underwear. Not only that but according to the lawsuit Alive Seminars staff recorded the clips of the Panda Express employees.

Matthew Blair and Oscar Ramirez, trial attorneys, suggested that the Panda Express and Alive Seminars had sought to make the employees prove their loyalty to the company by tragically humiliating themselves. Through a statement, Blair and Ramirez noted, “Today, Ms. Spargifiore has taken the difficult step of filing a lawsuit that is intended not to just help herself, but to change the workplace for all employees at Panda Express. Employees wishing to be promoted within a company should be judged by their talents and skill, not by whether they will degrade themselves in front of fellow workers, as Panda Express required, to prove their loyalty to the company.”

Honestly, if that was me I would run out the door in 5 seconds and never come back. This woman has all the right to sue, and I’m pretty sure everyone who reads it will agree. I don’t care if they’re going to give me the best promotion in the world, this is not okay. Apparently Panda Express did say that they didn’t have anything to do with it, and it’s all Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy that they had hired out to personally developed their employees.

The company noted, “Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy is a third-party organization in which Panda has no ownership interest and over which it exercises no control. While we always encourage personal growth and development, Panda Restaurant Group has not and does not mandate that any associate participates in Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy nor is it a requirement to earn promotions.

But at the end of the day, they should have known how we are going to train their employees. This is definitely bad management, this is tragic for every human being that was forced to do this. You can read the whole lawsuit here.

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What do you think?

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