- Massage Envy has announced new measures to prevent sexual assault.
- Changes include new policies on reporting and investigating reports of assault.
- More than 180 people have reportedly filed sexual assault lawsuits, police reports, and state board complaints against Massage Envy and its employees.
Massage Envy is making major changes following a bombshell report on sexual assault and harassment at the massage chain.
Last week, BuzzFeed News reported that more than 180 people had filed sexual assault lawsuits, police reports, and state board complaints against Massage Envy and its employees.
Reporter Katie J.M. Baker uncovered allegations of massage therapists touching women’s genitals or breasts without consent, as well as other instances of sexual assault, such as grinding against or ejaculating on customers.
On Tuesday, Massage Envy CEO Joseph Magnacca unveiled a new six-point plan to protect customers moving forward. The company will use an updated background test, as well as new policies for reporting and investigating sexual assault.
The company is additionally forming the Massage Envy Safety Advisory Council, which will include a representative from RAINN and Danielle Dick, a woman who started a campaign to improve safety at the company after she was reportedly assaulted at a Massage Envy spa.
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“By taking the drastic steps outlined in today’s announcement, Massage Envy leadership has finally demonstrated that they are taking this issue seriously, and that they are committed to establishing themselves as a leader in this area,” Dick said in a statement on Tuesday.
Massage Envy isn’t alone in facing these issues. Investigation into any major massage chain in the US reveals a number of sexual assault claims.
Customers at Massage Heights – a company with more than 100 spas nationwide – have filed at least 10 lawsuits and complaints after alleged sexual assaults. Massage LuXe, with more than 50 locations, also has a number of lawsuits filed against it. Hand and Stone, another massage chain with more than 100 locations, has similarly been accused in a number of cases.
“We believe the work we’re doing today can serve as a solid foundation for change across the industry, and we’re working with industry groups – like the American Massage Therapy Association – to move that conversation forward,” Magnacca wrote.
Here’s Magnacca’s full response to Dick on Massage Envy’s plans to prevent sexual assault:
Last week we shared the first steps that we are taking to address incidents of sexual misconduct in Massage Envy franchised locations. And we promised that this was just the beginning.
Today, we announced a six-point plan to drive additional, meaningful change. In shaping this plan, we knew that we must do it thoughtfully and we couldn’t do it alone. In addition to experts in victims’ rights, sexual violence and the massage industry, Danielle Dick provided important insight, and has been a key voice in shaping the plan. This plan, which was designed to create a safe environment for both clients and therapists, will be rolled out and implemented across the network over the coming weeks.
Massage Envy Commitment to Safety:
- Prevention: We are mandating updated background screening for all massage therapists on an annual basis. We’re also launching a fully-automated, third-party system with UBS (Universal Background Screening), consistently rated the country’s top background screening company, that tracks compliance of service providers’ employment requirements in real time. And, the network has just recently completed a review of all massage therapist files to ensure they have completed background and reference checks, have current licensure or certification and that annual training requirements have been met.
- Reporting: We are requiring that if a client makes an allegation of sexual assault, the franchisee will provide the client with contact information for local law enforcement and offer a private room to complete the call.
- Investigations: We are creating a qualified list of independent third-party resources that we will make available to assist franchisees in their investigations of sexual assault claims.
- Review: We are partnering with RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN works to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. Experts from RAINN will begin an end-to-end review of our policies and procedures – including reporting and investigation. They’ll recommend changes and together we will put change into action.
- Support: We are working with RAINN on response services, including victim support, and – through the National Sexual Assault Hotline – free access to immediate confidential assistance, trained staff and other resources.
- Guidance: We are forming the Massage Envy Safety Advisory Council. This group, which will initially include a representative from RAINN, as well as Danielle Dick, who was instrumental in advocating for this change, will help us develop, maintain and implement strong safety and support standards. We’ve also created a dedicated corporate department that will lead the development and implementation of safety policies, supported by RAINN and the Advisory Council.
We believe the work we’re doing today can serve as a solid foundation for change across the industry, and we’re working with industry groups – like the American Massage Therapy Association – to move that conversation forward.
The safety and well-being of members and guests has been our mission from day one and our commitment has never been stronger. Thank you for challenging us to do more.
Joe Magnacca, CEO of Massage Envy Franchising, LLC