Panda Express employees were under pressure to undress at the “cult” seminar: lawsuit
A former Panda Express employee in California claims in a lawsuit that the Chinese fast food outlet pressured her and her employees to attend a seminar in which they were forced to perform a “cultic ritual” except for Taking off underwear a new report.
The 23-year-old former employee, who worked at the Santa Clarita site from 2016 to July 2019, claims the store manager told her she needed to attend a self-improvement seminar – which she and other employees understood, according to a report in the Los Angeles Daily News this is complete to be considered for promotion.
The woman, whose name was withheld from the point of sale, paid for the four-day seminar herself as she was “anxious to hone her skills and advance within the company,” the lawsuit said, the report said.
The woman attended the Alive Seminars seminar held in July 2019 with 20 to 50 other workers at a warehouse in East Los Angeles.
The lawsuit alleges that mental abuse began immediately when the group was first asked to sit still and stay alone for an hour before a man yelled at them in Spanish for doing nothing – as they directed earlier had been. the report says.
Then a drill sergeant-style seminar employee yelled that they were “nothing” and told them that they “don’t matter,” the suit claims.
The seminar had the feel of a “place where terror suspects were interrogated off the peg,” where attendees were not allowed to use their phones, windows were blocked by dark sheets, and there were no clocks, the lawsuit said.
“Still, most of the participants, including the plaintiff, felt they had no choice but to stay because they were sent to the seminar by Panda Express and said their eligibility for promotion would depend on the conclusion of the seminar,” it said in the lawsuit.
Later in the seminar, the plaintiff was allegedly pressured to strip down to underwear with other staff members – all while trying to get the whole group to believe them when they yelled about their internal struggles as part of a confidence-building exercise on the news page reported.
The woman was allegedly forced to hug a man – who was also in his underwear – when he cried for not being convincing enough during the exercise, the outlet reported.
The Alive seminar staff allegedly dimmed the lights and told them all to keep their eyes closed as they imagined a light from above removing their negative energy and a hole in the floor swallowing them. A seminar worker recorded the moment – including the victim in her underwear – with her cell phone, according to the suit.
One participant was monitored in the bathroom and another person who vomited was given a trash can to throw in front of the group.
The woman eventually fled the bizarre gathering, claiming she had a family emergency. She quit her job because of the emotional distress caused by the flight, she claims
The woman made allegations of sexual battery, hostile work environment and intentional infliction of emotional stress against Panda Restaurant Group, Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy in a lawsuit filed last month in the Los Angeles County Supreme Court.
“We look forward to bringing this case to a jury so that Panda Express, which owns and operates over 2,000 restaurants, can get a clear message that it must end its practice of causing terrible psychological problems from its employees, abuse and harassment must be encouraged her attorney, Oscar Ramirez, told the LA Daily News in a statement.
The Panda Restaurant Group said it is investigating the allegations, the news site reported.
“Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy is a third party organization that Panda has no ownership interest in or control over,” the company said in a statement. Adding the seminars is not mandatory and not required for promotion.
“We do not condone the type of behavior (plaintiff) alleged at Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy, and we would not deliberately allow it to occur within or on behalf of our organization,” the company said.
Alive Seminars advised the point of sale that their sessions will be conducted with respect and dignity.
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