Massage Envy recently came under fire over allegations that four customers were sexually assaulted at four different franchise locations.
Another lawsuit was recently filed against four different Massage Envy locations over allegations that the four women were sexually assaulted by massage therapists. The suit was filed in San Mateo County Superior Court and argues Massage Envy was negligent in “hiring and supervising the five therapists accused by the plaintiffs.” The suit further accuses the company of “ignoring the known risk of assault they posed to customers by allowing them to remain employed or transferring them to another franchise location.”
To make matters worse, the plaintiffs also argue that Massage Envy has a policy of “concealing sexual assault reports, does not require that sexual assaults be reported to law enforcement or state massage therapy boards, and did nothing more than internally investigate each reported incident.”
But what happened, exactly? Well, the suit alleges four women were sexually assaulted at four different Massage Envy locations, including Encinitas, Corona in Riverside County, Daly City, near San Francisco, and Cotati in Sonoma County. In the Encinitas incident, a massage therapist allegedly “ejaculated onto the victim as she lay undressed on a massage table.” When the customer complained to the manager, she was offered an apology and a free massage.
When commenting on the case, Elizabeth Graham said, “Employees who went to management were told not to complain, which sent a message to those speaking up that such conduct was acceptable.” Graham is the director at Grant & Eisenhofer and is representing the women with associate Paige Alderson. She added:
“Employees who went to management were told not to complain, which sent a message to those speaking up that such conduct was acceptable,” plaintiffs’ attorney Elizabeth Graham alleged. “In at least one instance, male therapists shamed women clients, claiming they obviously wanted sex by seeking a massage, even though massage treatments are standard at virtually every spa and nail salon in the country. The misconduct itself is disturbing enough at franchise locations, but compounded by the parent company’s lack of reporting and rooting out of the abusers — not unlike the wider sex abuse scandals we’ve seen at the U.S. Gymnastics Association or even the Catholic Church.
It’s unconscionable that such brazen client abuse would take place in just one Massage Envy franchise — let alone multiple locations across California. This is a by-product of a toxic work culture, where abuse persisted and was tolerated even after the problem was well recognized within the company, and yet customer complaints went smothered and unreported.”
“We cannot comment on pending litigation, but we believe we have established best-in-class practices to address the types of issues alleged in this lawsuit, with the help of the Massage Envy Safety Advisory Council — made up of leading experts — and our work with RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the U.S. These and other concrete actions underscore our commitment to promoting a safe environment for members, guests and service providers at each of our nearly 1,200 franchise locations, and we will never stop working to have industry-leading safety policies.”