A former lawyer of Choudhury's had accused him of gender discrimination, wrongful termination and sexual harassment
Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga, was ordered on Monday to pay $924,500 to an attorney who used to work for him who sued him for gender discrimination, wrongful termination and sexual harassment, according to multiple reports.
In a unanimous verdict, a jury ordered the compensatory damages to be paid to Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, who had accused Choudhury of sexually harassing her and then firing her after she began looking into claims by other women that he had sexually assaulted them, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The jury found that Choudhury also acted with malice, oppression and fraud, which allows Jafa-Bodden to seek punitive damages, the Times said. A hearing for punitive damages begins Tuesday.
“It’s an enormous vindication,” said Jafa-Bodden’s attorney, Carla Minnard, reports the Associated Press.
In a statement to the New York Daily News, Minnard said Jafa-Bodden “stood up for what was right at great personal risk to herself and her daughter.”
During the trial, Choudhury denied sexually assaulting women. “I don’t do that. I don’t have to,” he testified, according to the Times.
Jafa-Bodden, who said she left her native India to work for him as Choudhury’s general counsel in 2011, alleged that he repeatedly sexually harassed her, subjected her to obscene comments about women and minorities, and pressured her to cover up his sexual harassment of women, the Times reports.
The yoga instructor has been sued by six women saying he groped, raped or harassed them. The Jafa-Bodden case is the first judgment against him.
Choudhury, 69, became famous after inventing a style of yoga that consists of 26 poses done over 90 minutes in a room heated to 104 degrees. Madonna, George Clooney and Jennifer Aniston have been among his devotees.