With over 1,200 locations throughout the country, Massage Envy has become a popular place for individuals seeking massage therapy, whether to address medical concerns or provide much needed stress relief.
Unfortunately for some customers, their experience was anything but stress-free. In August, several Massage Envy customers filed suit in New Jersey state court against the company, alleging they were sexually assaulted during therapy sessions.
According to the lawsuit filed in Middlesex County, between January 2015 and November 2016 four female customers of Massage Envy were sexually assaulted at franchise locations in Piscataway, Mays Landing, Short Hills and Closter, New Jersey.
Allegations of Assault
The women allege that male Massage Envy employees massaged their intimate areas without consent, including massaging buttocks, breasts and nipples. Other sexual misconduct allegations include unwanted contact with customers’ vaginal areas, including penetration.
One woman alleges while seeking a massage for shoulder injury, she was choked by a male employee, who proceeded to penetrate her vagina with his finger.
The women allege Massage Envy knew about the sexual assault by its male massage therapists and failed to take action, while discouraging customers to report the crimes to police and other authorities. Massage Envy is accused of working to hide the actions of its employees from law enforcement and state massage therapy boards.
The complaint states at least one of the accused male massage therapists had an extensive criminal record and was not properly licensed by the New Jersey Board of Massage and Body Work Therapy. Exemplary and punitive damages are sought against Massage Envy, based on vicarious liability, conspiracy, and fraud.
Responses to The Allegations
Massage Envy’s CEO has addressed these allegations by highlighting the company’s “rigorous commitment-to-safety plan,” which was developed to identify and implement measures to keep clients safe at all Massage Envy locations. The plan includes the creation of an eight-member safety advisory council, tasked with providing training to all Massage Envy franchises.
The American Massage Therapy Association has criticized Massage Envy management for its failure to take industry precautions, such as calling the police when allegations are made against a massage therapist; prominently displaying sexual misconduct reporting policies; and hiring independent consultants to address sexual misconduct allegations.
A Nationwide Matter
These are not the first allegations made against Massage Envy. Over 180 women across the nation have come forward to report sexual misconduct, including allegations of sexual assault at various Massage Envy franchises.
As a result of a series of sexual assaults that took place at the West Chester, Pennsylvania location in 2015, one Massage Envy therapist is currently serving six years in prison. Due to the West Chester incidents, Congressman Pat Meehan has introduced federal legislation that would require massage spa owners and employees to report sexual assault allegations directly to law enforcement.
Other sexual misconduct lawsuits against Massage Envy currently are pending in California and Florida. More lawsuits against the company are expected to be filed in the near future.
Atlantic City Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Levine Staller Fight for the Rights of Sexual Harassment Victims in New Jersey
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, the experienced Atlantic City sexual harassment lawyers at Levine, Staller, Sklar, Chan & Brown, P.A. will protect your rights and help you to obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. To schedule a confidential consultation today, call us at 609-348-1300 or submit an online inquiry form. Our office is conveniently located in Atlantic City, and we serve clients in Atlantic County, Cape May County, Ocean County, and throughout New Jersey.