I know we haven’t posted anything in a couple of weeks, so some of you might think that I am reaching when I write about a Utah state court decision overturning a lower court decision that had denied the plaintiff the right to amend his complaint.  Normally, this would generate a big yawn, but it is not every day that I read a case where the plaintiff alleges that his supervisor had him waterboarded as a motivational tool for his workforce.  

According to the court’s decision the following facts were alleged: The plaintiff’s supervisor had asked for volunteers for a new motivational exercise and, without knowing what was in store for him, the plaintiff volunteered.  The supervisor then led team members to the top of a hill near the company’s office and ordered the plaintiff to lie down, facing up with his head pointed downhill.  The supervisor then ordered other team members to hold the plaintiff down by his arms and legs.  He then began slowly pouring water from a gallon jug over the plaintiff’s mouth and nose so that he could not breath.  The other team members then continued to hold the plaintiff down while he tried to escape.

The motivational lesson?  The supervisor allegedly told the team members that they should work as hard at making sales as the plaintiff had worked at trying to breathe.

I usually try to include some practical advice when I write in this space, but I’m hoping that advice is unnecessary this time.  Suffice it to say that sometimes unconventional motivational methods work and sometimes, if these allegations are to be believed, they are just crazy.  By the way, for what it is worth, the court found that the plaintiff was entitled to amend his complaint.

Many thanks to BNA’s Daily Labor Report for making me aware of this decision.