Former employees of Bikram Choudhury of Bikram Yoga appear to be making an orderly line when it comes to filing wrongful termination lawsuits. The latest in the line of filings includes allegations that a former teacher-training recruiter, Sharon Clerkin, was fired from her position with Bikram Yoga because she was pregnant and because she refused to play along with business practices described as “shady.”
Clerkin filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court including much of the following information. Sharon Clerkin began working with Bikram Yoga as a teacher. She moved from there to the Bikram industrial complex as a teacher-training recruiter/coordinator. This was her position with the company from 2010 until August of 2015 when she was fired. Her job included scouting for trainees and helping in their registration. During her time in the position, she increased registrants from 300 to 400. She claims her success in driving up the number of registrants stopped suddenly with the filing of a number of rape suits against Choudhury.
At this point, Clerkin was allegedly asked to misguide potential registrants regarding the fall 2014 training in Atlantic City: it was abruptly cancelled, then not cancelled, then pulled to a different venue, and then not as follows. According to the information Clerkin provided in the filing, she handled the teacher training session registration for the event originally planned for fall of 2014 in the Atlantic City hotel and the training was sold at $12,500 for a shared room or $16,600 for a single room. Six weeks prior to the start of the training event, Choudhury’s assistant, M. Shigenaga, advised Clerkin that the event was cancelled; in spite of the fact that 36 individuals had already paid their training fees. The next day, the plan changed – Choudhury decided to move the training even to California (in an unspecified venue). Clerkin allegedly received further instruction from Choudhury’s assistant to keep the venue/location change a secret in order to continue collecting registration fees from prospective students interested in the Atlantic City location training. In response to questions posed by Clerkin regarding potential reimbursement of registrants’ airplane tickets to the Atlantic City location, she was told to “mind her own business” according to the complaint filed. In response, Clerkin continued to process registrations, but did not take any payments. She did not feel comfortable doing so until a decision was made regarding the location of the training session.
In summer of 2015, Clerkin discovered she was pregnant. She took days off due to doctor’s orders. When she returned to work, she had been replaced. She was advised by Choudhury that she was a “failure” and that he should have fired her years ago. Clerkin’s husband was also fired from his position with Bikram Yoga. Choudhury allegedly even had his assistant call the police to escort the two off the Bikram Yoga premises.