Bikram yoga founder told to pay $7.4 mn damages to former legal adviser for sexual harassment
Jan 27, 2016 09:16 PM EST
Bikram yoga founder, Bikram Choudhury, was ordered Tuesday to pay another $6.47 million in damages to his former lawyer for sexual harassment. A jury in Los Angeles Superior Court had already awarded his former legal adviser, Minakshi "Miki" Jafa-Bodden $924,000 in compensatory damages.
Yahoo reported that Jafa-Bodden claimed she suffered damages after she spoke out against Bikram's sexual harassment cases from other women. She also complained that she was subjected to harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
The Guardian wrote that Jafa-Bodden's attorney, Carla Minnard, said, "It's an enormous vindication." She said the 69-year-old yoga guru sexually harassed Jafa-Bodden by inappropriately touching her and tried to make her stay with him alone in a hotel suite. When Jafa-Bodden started to investigate sexual abuse cases by other women against Choudhury, she was fired as the guru's legal advisor in June 2013.
Jafa-Bodden was Choudhury's legal and international affairs head from 2011 to 2013. According to The Star, that besides the wrongful termination lawsuit Choudhury is facing with from Jafa-Bodden, he is also facing lawsuits from six other women. Five of those women claimed that he raped them. One of those cases is almost settled, while the rest are scheduled for trial this year.
Choudhury built his Bikram yoga empire through his routine, which constitutes a rigorous, 90-minute routine that will be conducted in a 100 degree Fahrenheit room. This technique is practiced and taught in 650 studios all over the world, and has garnered multitudes of followers.
Choudhury is originally from India, and made his fortune after he moving to California. Bikram yoga was first hit by controversy when the guru tried to copyright his routine. Now, he said he earned little money in the past three years and is almost in bankruptcy. Choudhury's lawyer said Jafa-Bodden was sacked by his client since she has no license to practice law in California.