Hot Yoga Guru Bikram Choudhury Sued for Sexual Harassment, Misconduct
April 30, 2013
Vincent Howard has been following a recent Los Angeles, California sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit filed by a former student of Bikram Choudhury, founder and guru of the popular hot yoga style, Bikram Yoga.
According to the lawsuit, Sarah Baughn, a Bikram student and teacher living in San Francisco, worshipped Choudhury as her mentor and hero, until he made inappropriate sexual advances toward her during her Los Angeles, California Bikram teacher training course in 2005.
Baughn claimed that after dropping out of college as a 20-year-old and paying $7,500 to study with Choudhury, she was initially uncomfortable after noticing how other young female students treated him with physical intimacy, by brushing his hair, washing his feet, and giving him massages, but decided it must be a cultural thing. Then Choudhury allegedly focused his sights on Baughn, offering her expensive gifts, telling her he had known her in a previous life, professing his feelings for her, and propositioning her about having a relationship together.
Baughn reportedly rejected Choudhury's continual sexual advances, trying to redirect the attention to his wife, also a teacher and founder of USA Yoga. Baughn claims that Choudhury pursued her continually for four years, with inappropriate physical contact while adjusting her yoga postures, whispering comments in her ear that were sexually charged, ordering her to publicly kiss him in front of others, and allegedly assaulting her during a teacher training. She reportedly discussed the sexual harassment to senior teachers at Choudhury's Yoga College of India based in Los Angeles, but was told that he was harmless, and that powerful men were often flirtatious.
According to Baughn, she continued to study, practice and teach Bikram yoga, because of her financial investment--despite the fact that after refusing Choudhury's sexual advances, her career and results in international competitions were reportedly sabotaged our of retaliation.
Choudhury, a 67-year-old from Calcutta, India has reportedly become a multi-millionaire from creating the system of Bikram yoga, a 90-minute class that practices 26 poses, employing two breathing techniques in a 105-degree room. Choudhury charges $25 per Bikram yoga class, oversees hundreds of studios all the world, and presides over worldwide teacher trainings with over 300 students that cost around $11,000. According to the New York Times, Choudhury has been called "Yoga's Bad Boy," and is said to have a penchant for Rolls-Royces and allegedly name-dropping his celebrity client list with stars such as Madonna and George Clooney.
As attorney Vincent Howard often discusses in Howard Law's Riverside employment lawyers blog, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment and discrimination is against the law. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against an employee who stands up to sexual harassment or discriminatory behavior.
In cities throughout Los Angeles County and Orange County, California, contact Vincent Howard at Howard Law, PC today.
Lawsuit Accuses Founder of Yoga Empire of Misconduct, New York Times, March 26, 2013
Hot yoga's Bikram Choudhury hit by sexual harassment suit, The Week, March 22, 2013
Sex harassment scandal rocks the peace of Bikram yoga world, Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2013
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