Los Angeles, CA- The founder of Bikram Yoga has been subjected to yet another sexual harassment lawsuit. The third suit, filed by a former employee, alleges Bikram Choudhury created a hostile environment in his Los Angeles headquarters, subjecting employees and students to sexual harassment and assault, racial discrimination and homophobia.
The lawsuit was filed in June and didn’t get much coverage until the Huffington Post tracked down the details. According to the news outlet, the woman at the center of the lawsuit is Minakshi Jaffa-Bodden, who worked as a legal advisor at Bikram Yoga’s School of India in Los Angeles.
Jaffa-Bodden’s suit claims that yoga guru Choudhury created a work environment “rife” with misogyny, sexual misconduct, racism and homophobia, and when she confronted him she was threatened.
According to the suit, Choudhury referred to the many women who attended the school and his employees as “bitches” and used a number of sexist epithets to describe women. However, his derogatory statements weren’t limited to women; he also made racial and homophobic slurs, the Huffington Post reported.
The lawsuit noted that Choudhury treated his African-American students differently, saying, “these blacks don’t get my yoga.”
And he didn’t hold back against homosexuals, “AIDS is caused by gays it is the truth,” Choudhury allegedly said, “But these fucking asshole guys love me, they love Bikram.”
Choudhury’s abuse was not limited to making derogatory statements about women, African-Americans and gay men; he is also accused of rape, sexual assault and harassment. In May, one of his former students and instructors filed a lawsuit alleging that he sexually assaulted her at a 2012 yoga conference after he hounded her for five years to have a sexual relationship with him.
After female attendees of his 2012 yoga conference came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, Jaffa-Bodden was made aware of allegations, but when she approached Choudhury it became obvious he wanted to keep the accusations from tarnishing his brand. Choudhury told Jaffe-Bodden it was “best” to ignore the allegations and instructed her “not to look into it any further.”
When Jaffe-Bodden stood up to him about the abusive behavior, he threatened to have her and her 8 year-old daughter deported, the Huffington Post reported. She was subjected to ongoing animosity from Choudhury and his close employees when she continued to intervene as accusations began to mount. In May of 2013, Jaffe-Bodden was forced to sign her resignation letter under what she perceived as physical duress.
“She did try to stop what she felt was illegal, immoral conduct,” Jaffe-Bodden’s attorney Carla Minnard told The Huffington Post.
In addition to threatening her with deportation, Choudhury seized the company-owned vehicle she used, and threw her out of the home he had furnished her with. Additionally, he threatened to jeopardize her green card application.
Jaffe-Bodden believes all of these actions were retaliation for confronting him about the sexual misconduct complaints.
Jaffe-Bodden’s lawsuit appears to confirm the allegations outlined in two lawsuits filed by former students following incidents at the 2012 yoga conference.
The previous lawsuits are ongoing, but Choudhury and his attorneys are attempting to have the court documents sealed and keep Choudhury from being deposed.