Founder of Bikram Yoga Ordered to Pay $6.4 Million After Lawyer Alleges Sexual Harassment

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A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury deliberated for about a day before returning a unanimous verdict on punitive damages against yoga guru Bikram Choudhury on Jan. 26, 2016, standing. (Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

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Los Angeles County jury Tuesday ordered Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram yoga, to pay roughly $6.4 million in punitive damages to a lawyer who alleged that Choudury sexually harassed her while she worked for him and that she was fired after she began investigating claims that he had raped a yoga student.

The award comes a day after the same jury ordered Choudhury, 69, to pay more than $924,500 in compensatory damages to the attorney, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, who said in her lawsuit that she suffered gender discrimination, wrongful termination and sexual harassment during her time working for Choudhury.

“I feel vindicated, I’m elated,” Jafa-Bodden said after the verdict, describing Choudhury as “a dangerous, dangerous predator.”

She said she was “gobsmacked” by the size of the punitive damages. One of her attorneys, Carla Minnard, called Choudhury’s actions “dispicable, inappropriate and illegal.”

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