Fast-food chain Panda Express seems to have made the news for all the wrong reasons as a former employee is suing the company for being forced to strip down to her underwear in front of others during a training exercise.
According to a report by NBC News, Jennifer Spargifiore claimed that the 2019 incident was part of a “trust-building” activity that was hosted by Panda Express and the self-improvement consulting company, Alive Seminars and Coaching Academy. She alleged that her manager told Spargifiore that the training seminar was mandatory to get a promotion.
As stated by the court documents, the 23-year-old worked at the Santa Clarita Panda Express from August 2016 to July 2019. It was further stated by the lawsuit that the sessions were “bizarre and quickly devolved into psychological abuse.” The aforementioned incident took place on July 13, 2019, where Spargifiore took part in an “‘exercise’’ where she was made to down to her underwear under the guise of ‘trust-building,’” as stated the lawsuit.
”She 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.”
Spargifiore and a man, who was also in his underwear, were then allegedly made to “hug it out” while others just looked at them. “The seminar more and more resembled a cult initiation ritual as time went on.”
Spargifiore is currently seeking unspecified damages for sexual battery, infliction of emotional stress, and more.
Since the lawsuit, the fast-food chain’s parent company, Panda Restaurant Group issued a statement on the allegation:
“We do not condone the kind of behavior described in the lawsuit, and it is deeply concerning to us,” a statement said. “We are committed to providing a safe environment for all associates and stand behind our core values to treat each person with respect.”
We sincerely hope no such incident ever happens again. We will also keep you updated on this ongoing story.