Photo via Pixabay.
Photo via Pixabay.

A former teacher recruiter for Bikram Yoga is suing the company and its founder for wrongful termination, alleging he called her a “failure” who he should have fired previously.

Sharon Clerkin filed the lawsuit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the firm and Bikram Choudhury, who has been the subject of several sexual harassment lawsuits by former employees.

Clerkin maintains she was actually fired for getting pregnant and for complaining about alleged misleading registration information concerning a training session.

Clerkin’s lawsuit alleges wrongful termination, retaliation and discrimination. She seeks unspecified damages.

Choudhury’s lawyer, Robert Tafoya, said today he had not seen the lawsuit and had no immediate comment.

According to the lawsuit, Clerkin began working for Bikram Yoga at its West Los Angeles headquarters on Olympic Boulevard initially as a yoga instructor. She later became a teacher-training recruiter and coordinator and was employed by the company from 2010 until her August firing, the suit states.

Clerkin helped the company increase its teacher-training registrants from 300 to 400, a number that stood until the “deluge” of sexual assault suits caused the number to drop, the suit states.

Clerkin managed the registration for teacher training sessions originally scheduled to take place in the fall of 2014 at an Atlantic City hotel, the suit states. The training was sold at the rates of $12,500 for a shared room and $16,600 for a single room, according to the complaint.

But six weeks before the training was set to start, Choudhury’s assistant, Monica Shigenaga, told Clerkin that it was being cancelled even though 36 people had paid their fees, the suit states.

The next day, Choudhury changed his mind and decided to move the training to an unspecified location in California, the suit states.

“Shigenaga further instructed plaintiff to keep the change in venue secret and to continue collecting money from prospective students for the Atlantic City location,” according to the lawsuit.

Clerkin asked Shigenaga whether the registrants should be compensated for their flight tickets to Atlantic City, but Shigenaga told her to “mind your own business,” the suit alleges.

Clerkin continued processing prospective registrations for the training, but refused to take payments until a decision was made about the location of the session, the suit states.

Clerkin left work early one day in July because of nausea related to her pregnancy, the suit states. Shigenaga asked Clerkin’s husband, Balwan Singh, if she was expecting, the suit states.

Clerkin took several days off between late July and early August at her doctor’s advice because of pregnancy issues and later learned from her assistant that someone else was hired by Bikram to work in the plaintiff’s position in her absence, the suit states.

During a conversation with Choudhury after Clerkin returned to work in August, he told her, “You’re a failure. I should have fired you two years ago. You’re not selling the teacher training,” according to her complaint.

Choudhury later confirmed that Clerkin and her husband were being fired and he told Shigenaga to call the police and have them both removed from the premises, the suit states.

— City News Service

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