#MassageToo! From Hollywood, Capitol Hill, Silicon Valley and beyond the #MeToo movement has revealed the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in our society. But at your local massage studio too? Yes! Massage Envy has been, and is being, sued by hundreds of women for failing to take appropriate measures when a massage therapist sexually harasses or assaults a client. Among a number of poor policies, the company has hidden clauses in customer agreements which force women to surrender their rights and many former employees report being trained to do all in their power not to encourage police to show up at their locations. Massage Envy does not even require reporting of suspected assaults to the Massage Therapy Board and a number of cases against Massage Envy involve prior complaints of sexual assault by customers being made to management and them doing nothing about it, thus allowing perpetrators to continue preying on vulnerable clients.
While reports of sexual assault abound at other massage establishments, Massage Envy is the largest massage chain in America, with more than 20,000 therapists and 1,200 locations. Massage Envy has long known about the problem of assaults on their tables and yet only recently made serious policy improvements to try to curb and deal with these reports. We applaud their progress, while deploring the length of time it took for such movement to be made, and call on Massage Envy to take a stance of complete transparency and accountability when it comes to further addressing these horrors.
We are asking Massage Envy to commit to:
1. Placing signs in each Massage Envy informing customers of their right to stop a massage at any point they feel uncomfortable, and their right to make a police report if they feel a masseuse has committed sexual misconduct or sexually harassed or assaulted them,
2. Publicly committing, and instituting strict internal policies, to report any case of customer discomfort with a masseuse regarding sexual misconduct, harassment, or assault, to the Massage Therapy Board,
3. Create an annual public transparency report in tandem with multiple advocacy organizations, similar to the one being created by Uber, which acknowledges the scope of the problem of sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault in each Massage Envy—and make this report available on the Massage Envy app, and in emails to new clients,
4. Publicly committing to stop forcing customers to wave their right to bring forward claims against Massage Envy, even when those claims are alleged on intentional or negligent wrongdoing on the part of Massage Envy employees.
Currently, Massage Envy forces its customers to wave any right to bring forward claims against the company, even in cases of unlawful conduct.
We believe this required waiver of rights imposed on clients is egregious and must be reversed.
By comparison, Somatic Massage company includes an allowance for bringing forward claims due to “gross negligence or willful misconduct” of “its owner or employees/contractors.”
When people are placing their bodies in the hands of a doctor, a dentist, or a masseuse, they’re putting trust in them. The nature of a massage, where individuals are more vulnerable and trusting than usual – nearly undressed, alone, and expecting relaxation – contributes to immense trauma when that trust is broken by sexual harm.
We recognize that Massage Envy has begun working to make improvements, but we are calling on Massage Envy to take its policies a step beyond mere damage control, and a step into actual corporate responsibility regarding sexual exploitation.Massage Envy is enabling sexual assault due to bad corporate policies. Demand a change! https://vimeo.com/316173061 Click To Tweet
Allegations of sexual assault date back nearly the founding of Massage Envy, yet most cases reported to the company were poorly handled and kept quiet. Despite some improved policies just recently (changes that came only after nearly 200 lawsuits were publicized) Massage Envy lacks transparency and accountability to the public about just how dangerous their spas are for women.
Massage Envy’s sexual assault problem finally exploded into the public’s awareness when one brave woman, Susan Ingram, refused to be silenced by Massage Envy’s team of lawyers. Her willingness to go to the press led to a breakthrough investigative journalism piece by Buzz Feed in November 2017, “More than 180 Woman Have Reported Sexual Assaults at Massage Envy.” Buzz Feed followed up their viral report with a second in August 2018, “Dozens More Women Say They Were Sexually Assaulted At Massage Envy.”
A simple Google News search turns up many news reports about Massage Envy’s poor handling of numerous sexual assault cases. Below are copies of a handful of lawsuits and personal accounts from survivors.
TWEET THESE.@MassageEnvy must commit to stop forcing customers to wave their right to bring forward claims against Massage Envy for #sexualassault. Bullying assault victims who were once your clients by denying #justice is not #sexualassaultprevention Click To Tweet #sexualassaultprevention if @MassageEnvy created an annual public transparency report in tandem with multiple advocacy organizations, similar to the one being created by @Uber, which acknowledges the scope of the problem of sexual… Click To Tweet .@MassageEnvy do better #sexualassaultprevention by placing signs in each spa informing customers of their right to stop a massage at any point and to make a police report if they feel a masseuse has committed sexual misconduct Click To Tweet
Tell Massage Envy to Improve Their Policies Regarding Sexual Assault
Want to speak up?
If you have been sexually assaulted or harassed or felt uncomfortable during a massage at a massage establishment and you would like to share your story, you can do so anonymously here. We will use these stories in our advocacy to improve guidelines in the massage industry.
Stay updated on these projects
Reporting Sexual Assault
National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline – Phone 800.656.(4673) OR Online Chat.
A safe, confidential service that will connect you to a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
How do I report sexual assault to Police?
- Call 911. Help will come to you, wherever you are.
- Contact the local police department. Call the direct line of your local police station or visit the station in person.
- Visit a medical center. If you are being treated for injuries resulting from sexual assault, tell a medical professional that you wish to report the crime. You can also choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam.
Seeking Legal Help
If you have a been a victim of sexual assault in a spa or during a massage, or if you know someone who has, and you are interested in seeking damages, these experienced sexual abuse attorneys may be able to help you.
Laffey Bucci Kent Law Firm
Brian Kent at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.220.7600
Adam Horowitz at email@example.com or (954) 641-2100
The Schmidt Firm
Email here or (866) 920-0753
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