Minakshi Jafa-Bodden has prevailed in her lawsuit against yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury, as previously discussed here.
A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram yoga, to pay about $924,500 to a lawyer who alleged that he sexually harassed her while she worked for him and that she was fired after she began investigating claims that he raped a yoga student.
Attorney Minakshi Jafa-Bodden said in her lawsuit that she suffered gender discrimination, wrongful termination and sexual harassment during her time working for Choudhury.
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Jurors deliberated for about a day before returning with a unanimous verdict in favor of Jafa-Bodden, said Mark Quigley, who along with attorney Carla Minnard represented Jafa-Bodden.
“Jafa-Bodden faced retaliation and intimidation when she refused to stay silent about witnessing illegal behavior,” Quigley said in a statement released after the jury's decision Monday afternoon. “This verdict sends an important message, that speaking out when you see signs of sexual abuse is the right thing to do.”
As per the LA Times, of the multiple lawsuits against Choudhury, at least one has been settled for an undisclosed amount. As discussed here, six former students have filed suit for various forms of sexual harassment and assault. In addition, and receiving very little coverage, yet another former attorney of his filed suit. Petra Starke, a former White House lawyer who was hired as a chief executive by Bikram in 2013, filed suit in November of 2015. Her complaint, which can currently be found here, bears a striking resemblance to Jofa-Bodden's. She also challenged Choudhury on his conduct toward and multiple complaints from women. And, like Jofa-Bodden, Starke was fired for doing so.
One of Plaintiffs primary jobs as President and CEO was to assist Yoga College's sole owner and founder, defendant Bikram Choudhury ("Choudhury"), in navigating the avalanche of sexual harassment and sexual assault lawsuits filed against him. But Choudhury's harassment and vindictiveness know no bounds. In January, he trained his sights on Plaintiff after she internally reported, within the company, even more acts of apparent sexual misconduct by Choudhury during a business trip to New York and Atlantic City.
According to her complaint, Starke was subjected to some of Choudhury's infamous racial slurs and implicit condemnation of her own mixed race marriage. There was egregious financial misconduct, which she tried unsuccessfully to correct. And, there was endless sexual harassment and manipulation of young, female staff. His employees were expected to come to his home, give him massages, and brush his hair. Starke was also urged to come to his home and model mini-skirts he'd bought for her.
Starke was fired after raising concerns about Choudhury's conduct with a 23 year old yoga instructor, during a business trip. Concerned about the potential for yet another charge of sexual harassment, she tried to without success to put the instructor in a separate hotel room. Instead, the instructor was compelled to stay in Choudhury's room and receive a couples massage, over her and Starke's objections. Starke was also trapped in a limousine with them, while Choudhury pressured the young woman into giving him a massage and fellatio.
In addition to all these indignities, Starke was cheated out of some of her earnings and terminated before the end of her contract.
Well... the yoga's good.