In a shocking BuzzFeed News’ report, published earlier this week, it was revealed more than 180 women had come forward with sexual assault allegations against US spa franchise Massage Envy employees.
Dozens of women have reported inappropriate touching, groping, and even penetration by various of the franchise’s massage therapists all across the US – now, the billion-dollar company is in damage control.
According to several victims, Massage Envy did nothing to help, but everything to protect themselves downplaying allegations, questioning credibility, and offering settlements. Court documents revealed some employees who had repeatedly assaulted clients were merely given warnings, and often, police was not informed at all.
In the few cases where employees were fired following assault reports, it was done quietly without informing police or state regulatory boards, allowing the therapists to move on to new professional opportunities with a clean record.
Massage Envy’s CEO Joseph Magnacca apologised Thursday saying they were “taking a hard look at ourselves,” and conducting a review “of all massage therapist files to ensure they have a completed background check and professional reference checks as well as to ensure their licensure/certification is current and annual training requirements have been met.”
While the sexual assault cases are tragic, what’s really damaging Massage Envy is the way the company handled the cases. Former clinic manager Kate Hardy said the internal review policy “is not in place to protect the client,” but the company. “It’s centered around defusing the situation so the client doesn’t call the police. You don’t want cop cars showing up at your location the next day.”
With 1,100 locations serving more than 1.5 million members, Massage Envy is undoubtedly facing the consequences of not putting clients first.