Former employees of Charlotte Yoga sue former owner for sexual harassment

Former employees of Charlotte Yoga sue former owner for sexual harassment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A sexual harassment lawsuit has been filed against the former owner of Charlotte Yoga in south Charlotte.

Channel 9 isn't naming him because he hasn't been charged with a crime.

At the time of the alleged harassment, the former owner operated a two Charlotte Yoga Studios, one in South End and another off Woodlawn Road.

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He ended up selling both locations this year to separate buyers.

The new owner of the studio off Woodlawn Road wants people to know the former owner is not involved in the current studio.

According to the lawsuit, the assault happened in December 2016 while the former owner was teaching a class.

It states the employee was in the down dog yoga pose when her boss put his feet on top of her hands, groped her hips and glutes and pressed his pelvic area into her back, all while making sexual comments that were unwelcome, harmful and offensive.

She said she even had a note next to her mat that read "no assist please."

In yoga, a "no assist" sign means you don't want the instructor to touch you.

Angie Lunking has been going to Charlotte Yoga for the past five years.

Channel 9 asked her what she thought of the allegations.

"I would suspect if she said so it was clearly wrong, because there is no way you could mistake a normal assist from something that is inappropriate, in my opinion," Lunking said.

Another woman is mentioned in the lawsuit, claiming the former owner grabbed her body and said he wanted to have sex with her.

Documents said both employees complained to the front desk and were terminated.

New owners took over the Woodlawn Road studio this year, and Lunking said she has noticed positive changes.

"It's got a great feel," she said. "It's got a great vibe now. There’s a lot of things they consider, I think. A lot of consideration, just how the studio is arranged, so we really like the change and the feel of it. It was really rocky for a little bit. I'm really happy with the new ownership."

Channel 9 reached out to the former owner, but we haven't heard back.

In April 2018 when allegations started to surface, he sent the following email to clients:

"I vehemently deny the allegations and am responding to them in the proper course. I am, and always have been, committed to providing a safe and compassionate space for students, teachers and staff."