Bikram yoga founder ordered to pay $7.4M for sex harassment

LOS ANGELES -- A man who made an empire out of his high-heat brand of yoga has been ordered to pay well over $7 million to a former legal adviser who said he sexually harassed her.

See Full Article

A Los Angeles jury ordered Bikram yoga founder Bikram Choudhury to pay $6.5 million in punitive damages Tuesday on top of $924,000 in compensatory he was ordered to pay in the same case a day earlier.

The woman, Minakshi "Miki" Jafa-Bodden, had said Choudhury sexually harassed her and wrongfully fired her for investigating another woman's rape allegation.

"This is a good day for women," Jafa-Bodden said in a statement following the 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. 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

  • China's richest man Jack Ma says he has 'great chemistry' with Trudeau

    Economic CTV News
    Alibaba founder and China’s richest man Jack Ma says he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have now met five times and have “great chemistry.” “See, the PM this morning talked about cutting the red tapes and improving the business environment,” Ma told BNN’s Jon Erlichman Monday after their latest meeting in Toronto. Source
  • Ottawa begins public consultations on dealing with corporate wrongdoing

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The federal government kicked off nearly two months of public consultations Monday on revising efforts to address corporate wrongdoing, including the possible introduction of a deferred prosecution agreement regime. Engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) has led the charge for deferred prosecution agreements (DPA) found in other countries as a way to resolve criminal fraud charges it faces. Source
  • South Dakotans oppose Canadian company's gold search

    Economic CTV News
    ROCHFORD, S.D. -- Some private landowners are opposing a Canadian company's search for gold in a remote area of South Dakota's Black Hills National Forest. Mineral Mountain Resources has submitted an operating plan to the forest for more than 20 drilling sites on federal land a couple miles south of Rochford. Source
  • Alberta creates advisory team to assist cities bidding for second Amazon HQ

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- The Alberta government is stepping in to help Edmonton and Calgary bid for retail giant Amazon's second headquarters. Premier Rachel Notley says the team will assist the cities to make the best bids while selling the assets the province has to offer. Source
  • Satya Nadella aims to make Microsoft mighty — and mindful

    Economic CTV News
    Satya Nadella, the Microsoft CEO who kept the company relevant as its primary PC software business faded, could write a book about the challenges he faced. And he has ... but it's not a tell-all memoir. Source
  • Donald Trump on jobs of the future LIVE

    Economic CBC News
    Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar describe military's violence and killings 2:50 Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar describe how they faced violence and killings by the Burmese military, prompting thousands of them to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. Source
  • JetBlue latest U.S. airline to back Bombardier in fight with Boeing

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- JetBlue is the latest U.S. airline to back Bombardier in its trade dispute with Boeing, ahead of the expected imposition of preliminary export duties on shipments to the United States. The airline has urged the U.S. Source
  • Ontario has lost 1,000 planned rental units since new housing rules introduced:report

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- A group representing Ontario's rental-housing providers says at least 1,000 planned rental units have been cancelled or converted to condominiums since the provincial government introduced new rent control rules in the spring. A new report commissioned by the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario says the Liberal government's Fair Housing Plan has negatively impacted the province's rental housing supply. Source
  • Ontario has lost 1,000 planned rental units since new housing rules introduced: report

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- A group representing Ontario's rental-housing providers says at least 1,000 planned rental units have been cancelled or converted to condominiums since the provincial government introduced new rent control rules in the spring. A new report commissioned by the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario says the Liberal government's Fair Housing Plan has negatively impacted the province's rental housing supply. Source
  • Cenovus sells Suffield for $416M to International Petroleum

    Economic CBC News
    Canada's Cenovus Energy Inc has reached an agreement to sell its Suffield oil and gas assets for $512 million to International Petroleum Corp, striking its second deal this month as it pushes ahead with its debt reduction plan. Source