Bikram Yoga founder Bikram Choudhury has been ordered to pay $924,500 to a lawyer who sued him for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and wrongful termination.
Minakshi Jafa-Bodden alleged that Choudhury repeatedly sexually harassed her while she was working for him, and that when she began to investigate claims that he had raped one of his yoga students, she was abruptly fired, according to the LA Times.
At the trial, Choudhury repeatedly denied the accusations, calling the charges, “big lies.” The jury voted unanimously in favor of Jafa-Bodden, and found that the Bikram founder had acted “with malice, oppression, and fraud” meaning that she is able to seek punitive damages.
The Associated Press reports that this is just one link in the chain of lawsuits against Choudhury:
In October, the guru lost a court appeal to copyright his sequence of 26 poses and two breathing exercises. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the sequence used in hot yoga classes is a process intended to improve people’s health, so copyright law does not cover it.
Choudhury is also facing lawsuits by six women who claim he sexually assaulted them, the first of which is set for trial in April.
The most recent lawsuit, filed Feb. 13, accuses Choudhury of raping a Canadian woman who had she used $10,000 from her college fund to pay for a nine-week class so she could teach Bikram yoga to others.
“We think the jury’s verdict is a tremendous vindication of all of Ms. Bodden’s efforts to stop this abusive and harassing conduct not just towards herself but to numerous other women who have attempted to stand up to Bikram Choudhury,” Jafa-Bodden’s lawyer Carla Minnard said in a statement to the New York Daily News.
“She stood up for what was right at great personal risk to herself and her daughter, both of whom were threatened by Bikram Choudhury with being deported and killed... The truth is finally out about an abusive tyrant who has engaged in despicable conduct toward women for a very long time.”
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via AP.