Massage Envy Chain Being Forced To Face Sexual Assault Accusations Thanks To The #MeToo Movement

By Brian Kent

Massage Envy is not new to sexual assault lawsuits. In 2017, almost 200 women allege that they were sexually assaulted at Massage Envy branches across the United States. This year, there are already three lawsuits that have been filed against this massage spa chain. Extensive Buzzfeed news reports have revealed that Massage Envy has a nationwide problem of sexual assault. This article discusses the lawsuits filed against Massage Envy, its franchise locations, and therapists in a descending order.

2018 Lawsuits

New Jersey Sexual Assault Lawsuit
On August 30, 2018, Laffey Bucci & Kent, LLP announced that they filed a new lawsuit against Massage Envy. This lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court in Middlesex County, New Jersey, on behalf of four women who claim that they have been sexually assaulted by the therapists of Massage Envy’s franchise in New Jersey.

The sexual assault case filed against the Massage Envy’s franchise in New Jersey is the latest lawsuit in a series of several legal actions that have been taken against the company as similar lawsuits have already been filed in Florida and California. These legal actions aim to stop the sexual assault epidemic which is persistently occurring across the nation at Massage Envy franchises.

Florida Sexual Assault Lawsuit
AbuseGuardian.com attorneys filed a major lawsuit in Palm Beach County Circuit Court against Massage Envy as they accused the company and its nine franchises located in Florida of failing to protect their customers from sexual predators. The nine Massage Envy franchise locations are Fort Lauderdale, Largo, Lutz, Royal Palm Beach, Sarasota, West Boca, West Palm Beach, Ortega and Spanish River. The case was filed on August 27, 2018 in the 15th Judicial Circuit for Palm Beach County, Florida. This lawsuit was filed on behalf of 11 brave women who presented their allegations against the corporation. These women claim that Massage Envy created a environment conducive to sexual assault predators who commit crimes and go unpunished. This lawsuit builds on the one that was early filed in California.

California Sexual Assault Lawsuit
AbuseGuardian.com’s attorneys filed a major lawsuit against Massage Envy and six franchise owners in California. They claim that the corporation failed to protect unsuspecting customers from some of its therapists who are sexual assault predators. This lawsuit represents the interest of six women who claim that they were sexually assaulted during a massage session at Massage Envy’ franchise locations in California. The suit claims that the corporation has created a culture that ignores and conceals sexual abuse complaints instead of taking action.

2017 Lawsuits
The investigation reports revealed that by November 27, 2017, at least 180 women had filed sexual assault lawsuits as well as state board complaints and police reports against Massage Envy and its employees.

This massage chain offers little guidance to its 1170 franchised locations across the 49 states on effective ways to handle sexual assault claims. However, the assault victims informed news outlets that Massage Envy ignored some of their complaints such as groping as well as digital and oral penetration. In fact, some of alleged assailants continued to pursue their careers at the company. What makes the situation worse is that multiple women reported that they were assaulted by same massage therapists before the company took any action against them. For instance, 8 women united in a lawsuit against one of the chains in West Chester, Pennsylvania. In Chicago, four women filed lawsuits against the company’s franchises and its employees for similar claims.

In Illinois, the Tribune discovered that in the recent years, lawsuits have been filed against four of this company’s franchises of Massage Envy in Chicago, Elmhurst, Tinley Park and Naperville. Those women accused the male massage therapists of sexually assaulting them. In Chicago, a woman filed a lawsuit in Will County against one of the Massage Envy outlets in Tinley Park as she alleged that her male massage therapist groped her private parts in August 2016. He later allegedly followed the woman outside the therapy room to inquire whether she was comfortable with his actions as his approach suggested that he was aware that the woman did not welcome his behavior at the therapy room.

On the contrary, Massage Envy denies the claims stating that there was at most one incident of sexual harassment, the number of lawsuits were exaggerated, and its franchisees are committed to creating a safe environment to their clients. The company maintains that it Is not legally responsible for the many sexual assault claims that were made against its massage therapists, as those who own those franchises are liable for the assault crimes since they are responsible for the daily operations of their individual outlets.

An LCG Massage attorney who owns the Tinley Park Massage Envy franchise denies that those sexual assault claims are mere allegations. He insisted that the law enforcement officers were informed of the woman’s claims but they did not file any charges against the therapist.

According to a review of the court records in Cook, DuPage and Will counties, the other three women have either voluntarily dismissed their lawsuits or settled them out of court as the suits have not proceeded.

The Bottom Line
We cannot overstate the national toll of sexual assault lawsuits. Even though these new lawsuits seek to represent the interest of few assault victims, it is safe to assume that hundreds (or even thousands) of women from across the nation are yet to come out with similar complaints. Therefore, women who have undergone such experiences at any of the Massage Envy’s franchises should step forward to fight for justice and change. These four women are among those who have shown an act of bravery, courage as well as moral clarity in their attempt to hold the nation’s largest massage spa chain liable.

All these women were allegedly sexually assaulted while undergoing a massage session for rest and relaxation at a Massage Envy’s franchise. The alleged misconduct ranges from inappropriate comments and touching to non-consensual disrobing and digital penetration. No one should not be subjected to such hostile environments.These individuals did not expect that their trust would be violated, yet they were victimized and sexually predated by the therapists. As a result, the victims suffer from chronic pains.


 

Brian Kent is a partner at Laffey, Bucci, Kent and a sponsor of the site AbuseGuardian.com. He graduated with a law degree from Philadelphia’s Temple University, and served as a criminal prosecutor in the Sex Crimes Unit of Montgomery County’s District Attorney’s Office.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: GirlTalkHQ – New Conversations About Sexual Assault Report Limitations In Light Of Brett Kavanaugh

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