A judge Thursday dismissed a lawsuit brought by a former teacher recruiter for Bikram Yoga who sued the company and its founder for wrongful termination, alleging he called her a “failure” who he should have fired previously.
Sharon Clerkin had filed the lawsuit in November 2015 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 maintained she was actually fired for getting pregnant and complaining about alleged misleading registration information concerning a training session.
However, Judge Rupert A. Byrdsong dismissed Clerkin’s lawsuit after neither of the parties nor their attorneys showed up for Thursday’s hearing, just as what had occurred during the previous hearing on Sept. 17. The judge’s action is “without prejudice,” meaning the lawsuit can be reinstated with the proper explanation.
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 2015 firing, the suit stated.
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 stated.
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 stated. 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.
However, six weeks before the training was set to start, Choudhury’s assistant, Monica Shigenaga, told Clerkin that it was being canceled even though 36 people had paid their fees, the suit stated.
The next day, Choudhury changed his mind and decided to move the training to an unspecified location in California, the suit stated.
“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 alleged.
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 stated.
Clerkin left work early one day in July 2015 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 2015 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 stated.
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 stated.
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