Los Angeles: A Los Angeles court has ordered Bikram Choudhury, founder of Bikram yoga, to pay nearly USD 6.5 million to his former legal adviser who alleged that Choudury sexually harassed her while she worked for him and wrongfully fired her for launching a probe into another woman’s rape allegation.
The USD 6.5 million in punitive damages are in addition to the $924,000 in compensatory damages that the same court had earlier asked Choudhury must pay to his former legal adviser, Minakshi “Miki” Jafa-Bodden – bringing the total damages to about $7.4 million.
Jafa-Bodden worked as legal aid to Choudhury from 2011 to 2013 but was abruptly fired for refusing to cover up an investigation into a rape allegation.
Jaff-Bodden was quoted as saying, “I feel vindicated, I’m elated,” adding that she was “gobsmacked” by the size of the punitive damages.
The lawyer also described Choudhury as “a dangerous, dangerous predator.”
Choudhury, 69, has built an empire around Bikram yoga, a rigorous, 90-minute routine performed in a room that can reach more than 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.
Six other women in recent years have sued Choudhury, alleging that he sexually assaulted or harassed them.