Hot yoga founder loses court case

| Feb 1, 2016 | Sexual Harassment |

Bikram Choudhury, the founder of the popular Bikram hot yoga system, was ordered to pay a former employee more than $7.4 million after she claimed he sexually harassed her. The woman was awarded $6.5 million in punitive damages on top of $924,000 in compensatory damages. She worked for Choudhury at a Los Angeles yoga school from 2011 until March 2013 when she was terminated.

According to her attorney, she was terminated because she refused to stay quiet about illegal activity that she had witnessed. The woman said that she was terminated specifically because she was investigating an alleged rape involving another employee. In addition to retaliation related to the case, Choudhury also touched her inappropriately and asked her to stay in a hotel suite with him. This specific case is one of seven that he has faced recently.

In addition to this case, he is facing civil legal action from six other women who say that he raped them. One case is in the process of being settled while the others are going to trial. Choudhury has also been in court over copyright protections related to his hot yoga course. In October 2015, he lost a bid to copyright his hot yoga course as it was related to improving one’s health and not eligible for protection.

Those who have been victims of sexual harassment on the job often do not know where to turn, and many feel that they will be terminated if they make a formal complaint about the matter. An employment law attorney can point out that such form of retaliation is prohibited, and legal counsel can also investigate the matter in order to determine if a claim should be filed with the EEOC or appropriate state agency.

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