On January 26, 2016, a Los Angeles County jury ordered Bikram Choudhury, the founder of the popular Bikram Yoga franchise, to pay over $7 million to a lawyer formerly employed by the company. The former employee, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, alleges that she was sexually harassed and ultimately fired after she refused to cover up sexual conduct towards other female employees.
Jafa-Bodden claimed she was induced to leave India in 2011 to work as a legal analyst for Choudhury. Once employed, she says she was required to meet with Choudhury in his hotel rooms while younger female employees massaged him and made frequent sexual overtures toward her.
The $6.4 million punitive damage verdict was in addition to an award of more than $924,500. Several other similar lawsuits alleging sexual harassment remain pending against Choudhury.As this case illustrates, retaliation cases against employers are on the rise and frequently carry the most risk.