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

  • Biggest U.S. banks strong enough to withstand recession: Fed

    Economic CTV News
    In this Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Joint Economic Committee. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) Source
  • Postmedia selling Infomart division

    Economic CBC News
    Postmedia Network Canada Corp. has signed a deal to sell Infomart, its media monitoring division, to Meltwater News Canada Inc. for $38.25 million. The cash-strapped media company says net proceeds from the sale will be used to repay debt. Source
  • A new platform for Whole Foods? How deal could upend grocery

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Seeing Whole Foods products first in Amazon searches? Breezing through the grocer's stores with an app that scans affordable fruits and seafood? Those are among the possible scenarios that unnerved the food industry last week, when Amazon announced a $13.7 billion megadeal to acquire Whole Foods. Source
  • Foreign home buyers surge 37 per cent in Montreal on growth in Chinese purchases

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Canada's federal housing agency says the number of foreign buyers in the Montreal area surged by 37 per cent in the first four months of the year. The 236 purchases by foreigners accounted for 1.8 per cent of all real estate transactions from January to April, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Source
  • Qatar Airways seeks 10% stake in American Airlines

    Economic CBC News
    State-owned Qatar Airways is attempting to buy 10 per cent of American Airlines, a surprising move that would trigger an antitrust review by the U.S. government and carry political and trade-policy implications. American Airlines Group Inc. Source
  • Boeing plays down Bombardier dispute, still hopes to sell fighter jets to Canada

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA - A senior Boeing official says the U.S. aerospace giant's trade dispute with Montreal-based rival Bombardier is a "company-to-company issue." And Leanne Caret, the head of Boeing's massive defence, security and space division, still hopes to sell Super Hornet fighter jets to Canada. Source
  • Full list of 59 Sears Canada stores slated to close

    Economic CTV News
    Sears Canada will be closing stores in every province except Prince Edward Island, as the retailer slashes 2,900 jobs amid a major restructuring effort. Sears filed for court protection from creditors on Thursday, before announcing that it will close 20 full-line locations, 15 Sears Home stores, 10 outlet stores and 14 Sears Hometown locations. Source
  • Canadian retail sales top April forecasts

    Economic CBC News
    Canadian consumer spending in April was stronger than expected, which economists say lends weight to the Bank of Canada's recent suggestions that interest rate hikes could be on the way. Statistics Canada reported Thursday that retail sales for April rose by 0.8 per cent on a monthly basis to $48.6 billion. Source
  • Warren Buffett’s company buys into Toronto-based Home Capital

    Economic Toronto Sun
    TORONTO - Home Capital Group Inc. says American investment firm Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has agreed to indirectly acquire $400 million of its common shares in a private placement and provide a new $2 billion line of credit to its subsidiary, Home Trust Company. Source
  • Sears Canada cutting 2,900 jobs, closing 59 locations

    Economic Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — Sears Canada said Thursday it is seeking court protection from its creditors in order to restructure its business. The struggling retailer has piled up losses and seen its stock dive, losing more than 80 per cent of its value in the last year, despite efforts to reinvent itself at a time when more Canadians are shirking bricks-and-mortar in favour of online shopping. Source