Bikram Yoga founder ordered to pay millions in damages

LOS ANGELES - The founder of Bikram yoga on Tuesday was ordered to pay nearly $6.5 million to his former legal adviser who said he sexually harassed and wrongfully fired her for investigating another woman's rape allegation.

See Full Article

The punitive damages are in addition to the $924,000 in compensatory damages that Bikram Choudhury must pay to his former legal adviser, Minakshi "Miki" Jafa-Bodden. That brings the total damages to about $7.4 million.

"This is a good day for women," Jafa-Bodden said in a statement following the Los Angeles jury's verdict.

Choudhury's attorney, Robert Tafoya, did not return calls for comment Monday or Tuesday.

Jafa-Bodden worked as head of legal and international affairs at Choudhury's Los Angeles yoga school from spring 2011 until March 2013, when she said she was abruptly fired from her six-figure position for refusing to cover up an investigation into a rape allegation.

"Jafa-Bodden faced retaliation and intimidation when she refused to stay silent about witnessing illegal behaviour," her attorney, Mark Quigley, said in a statement.

Additionally, Jafa-Bodden said Choudhury sexually harassed and inappropriately touched her, and tried to get her to stay with him in a hotel suite.

Choudhury, 69, has built an empire around Bikram yoga, a rigorous, 90-minute routine performed in a room that can reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). The technique is taught at more than 650 studios worldwide and has drawn a throng of devoted followers.

Choudhury contends he is now nearly bankrupt.

Jafa-Bodden's wrongful termination lawsuit is separate from sexual assault lawsuits filed by six other women, five of whom accuse Choudhury of raping them. One of those lawsuits is in the process of being settled while the rest are set for trial later this year.

His attorneys have said he never sexually assaulted any of the women suing him and that prosecutors had declined to bring charges in their cases.

Mary Shea, one of the attorneys representing the women filing the assault lawsuits, said prosecutors never investigated the allegations and that just because charges weren't filed doesn't mean the women aren't telling the truth.

"These are all very brave women who've had the courage to stand up against very serious opposition and public scrutiny," she said. "If anything, this (verdict) has given them the confidence to go forward and speak their truth."

Choudhury experienced another major court loss in October when he lost an 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.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Asian stocks down as multiple trade disputes worry investors

    Economic CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - Asian stocks fell Friday following Wall Street losses overnight as investors were still wary over trade disputes between China and the U.S. as well as between the U.S. and Europe that could hurt corporate profit and jobs. Source
  • Canada launches second drywall dumping complaint investigation in two years

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- A Canadian drywall manufacturer has launched its second trade complaint in two years alleging that the building panels are being dumped by U.S. competitors at unfair prices. The Canada Border Services Agency says it is investigating the complaint by CertainTeed Gypsum Canada Inc. Source
  • Chinese startup electric automaker picks BlackBerry for key software licences

    Economic CTV News
    WATERLOO, Ont. - A Chinese automaker that wants to bring out a line of electric cars with some self-driving capabilities has selected BlackBerry Ltd. to provide software designed to ensure critical systems can run safely at all times. Source
  • A&W Canada to put plant-based burger on menu

    Economic CTV News
    A&W will become the first national burger chain in Canada to put the much-hyped plant-based burger on its menu. The fast food chain has struck a partnership with Beyond Meat that will bring the plant-based burgers to its 925 locations across Canada starting July 9. Source
  • Doug Ford says he will keep Pickering plant open until 2024 as promised

    Economic CTV News
    PICKERING, Ont. -- Doug Ford says he is delivering on his campaign promise to keep the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station open until 2024. In a news conference at the generating station this morning, the premier-designate said the move would protect thousands of jobs. Source
  • Construction commission seeking order forcing Quebec crane operators back to work

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec's construction commission is seeking an order from a labour tribunal that would force the province's crane operators back to work. The tribunal began hearing arguments from both sides of the conflict today. Source
  • Tribunal orders Quebec crane operators ordered back to work

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec's crane operators are being ordered back to work. A labour tribunal hearing ruled Thursday evening in favour of an order sought by the province's construction commission, forcing workers to end any work stoppage or slowdown tactics. Source
  • Bombardier pouring millions into creation of GTA aerospace hub

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Bombardier says it will be pouring millions of dollars into various projects aimed at creating an aerospace hub in the Greater Toronto Area. The aerospace giant says the funding strengthens its partnership with a local consortium whose primary goal is getting the hub established. Source
  • B.C. government intends to crack down on hidden ownership of real estate

    Economic CTV News
    VICTORIA - The British Columbia government is taking steps to end opportunities to anonymously invest and hide wealth in real estate. Finance Minister Carole James says a new, publicly accessible registry is being created to identify the owners of real estate in the province. Source
  • OPEC enters meeting that could set direction of oil prices

    Economic CTV News
    Officials from major oil-producing nations are expected to agree this week to boost output, but just how much they will open the spigot -- and the effect on oil prices -- remain wild cards. Ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC nations led by Russia are meeting Friday and Saturday in Vienna, and it could be a difficult and uncomfortable gathering. Source