Hot yoga has been trending for several years now in a nation obsessed with fitness. Hot yoga finds itself in the news once again, but not for its health benefits.
Yogi Bikram Choudhury, whose “hot yoga” method has been wildly popular, was recently sued for sexual harassment by a former student who said he made unwanted sexual advances and sexually assaulted her. The woman claims that after she rebuffed him, he retaliated against her by blocking her career in yoga.
The woman says she was in a teacher training program taught by Choudhury when he began flirting with her, telling her that they knew each other in past lives. At one point during the training, she says he sexually assaulted her, stopping only when she burst into tears. Afterwards, she claims, Choudhury blocked her from advancing in her yoga career. She says she was denied a title at a yoga competition because of him. Choudhury did not respond to the press about her accusations.
Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based upon sex. Both Minnesota and federal laws prohibit the practice and require most employers to come up with policies to prevent it. Still, sexual harassment can happen in almost any workplace, including a yoga studio. Workplace sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance or conduct that unreasonably interferes with a person’s ability to do a job, or that creates a hostile work environment..
Sexual harassment can come from a supervisor, co-worker, contractor or even a non-employee, and it can happen to men as well as women. If a superior commits harassment and there is a tangible employment action, such as termination or demotion, the employer may be held liable for the harassment. If the harassment came about as the result of a hostile work environment, the employer may also be responsible if theydid not take reasonable steps to correct it.
Sexual harassment is a serious offense. Minnesota residents who may be victims of this behavior need to make sure their rights are protected and seek out answers given their particular circumstances.
Source: ABC News, “‘Hot Yoga’ Guru Faces Sexual Harassment Charges,” Samantha Riley, March 22, 2013