Things are beginning to heat up in a California wrongful termination lawsuit against Bikram Yoga and its founder, Bikram Choudhury.

Recently, a California jury heard opening statements where Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, a former legal advisor to the hot yoga guru, claimed Choudhury fired her and threatened to have her killed after she made complaints about sexual harassment – behaviors that Choudhury and his attorneys deny.

Things are beginning to heat up in a California wrongful termination lawsuit against Bikram Yoga and its founder, Bikram Choudhury.

Recently, a California jury heard opening statements where Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, a former legal advisor to the hot yoga guru, claimed Choudhury fired her and threatened to have her killed after she made complaints about sexual harassment – behaviors that Choudhury and his attorneys deny.

Signs of Sexual Harassment in the Bikram Yoga Workplace

Jafa-Bodden’s attorney told the jury that her client was fired for complaining about workplace sexual harassment, as well as her concerns about other litigation. However, another attorney for Choudhury claimed Jafa-Bodden lost her job because she wasn’t licensed to practice law in California.

According to the plaintiff’s attorney, Mark Quigly, Jafa-Bodden, an India native, had been practicing law internationally upon obtaining her degree in Great Britain. Her services were then recommended to Choudhury by an acquaintance. Quigly said that in order for Jafa-Bodden to work in the United States in a capacity that did not require her to be licensed, the yoga innovator would have to sponsor her, and he did.

Quigly went on to say, “They knew she was not licensed in California.”

According to the Plaintiff, in March 2011, Jafa-Bodden started working for Choudury, where she received praise of her work. She then began an investigation into lawsuits against Bikram Yoga. Quigly said Jafa-Bodden found a workplace discrimination lawsuit against the company by a black employee. That’s when Jafa-Bodden started experiencing backlash from the yoga guru.

The Plaintiff alleges that tension at Bikram Yoga began to worsen when Jafa-Bodden made complaints about how Choudhury treated women in the yoga college workplace. According to Quigly, the women were often called by derogatory names. Quigly also alleged that Choudhury had sex with yoga trainees, plus urinated in front of Jafa-Bodden.

Quigly went on to say that Choudhury warned Jafa-Bodden, “I’ll have you deported, I’ll have you killed.”

Petra Starke, former White House lawyer, worked for Choudhury after Jafa-Bodden was terminated from her position in March 2013. She said she had some of the same experiences as Jafa-Bodden. She, too, was fired.

Choudhury’s Attorneys Say Bikram Yoga Sexual Harassment Allegations are False

In response to the allegations against Choudhury, one of his attorneys, Robert Tafoya, argued that the plaintiff’s case was built on “smoke and mirrors” and that she and her attorneys “take a kernel of truth and turn it into something it is not.”

Tafoya also said that Choudhury believed the plaintiff was licensed to practice law in California. In addition to that, Tafoya argued that Jafa-Bodden only Saw Choudhury urinate in front of her because she walked into his suite’s restroom without permission.

On Choudhury’s character, Tafoya said that though the defendant sometimes uses bad language, he “is not the monster Mr. Quigly would like you to believe he is […] Choudhury lived the American dream and started his business in a garage.”

This isn’t the first time Choudhury has felt the heat from lawsuits brought against him. He has also recently been accused of rape, sexual assault, and wrongful termination by other former employees.

Read the original story: Bikram Yoga legal battles continue on MyNewsLA.com

Additional Information on Bikram Yoga Lawsuits

  • Yoga guru Bikram Choudhury accused of sex assault, rape via CNN.com
  • Yoga Guru Threatened to Kill Fired Legal Head, Jury Told via Law 360
  • Yoga guru Bikram Choudhury’s wife files for divorce after rape allegations via New York Daily News

Additional Information About Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

  • Sexual Harassment Cases in California: Real-Life Examples
  • Sexual Harassment – Legal Standards via Workplace Fairness
  • Facts About Sexual Harassment via U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

If you feel you have been subjected to sexual harassment or wrongful termination in California, contact our passionate employment attorneys so they can help you file a claim.