Last week, Buzzfeed News shared an investigative report that highlighted an exorbitant number of sexual assault cases filed against the Massage Envy spa chain. The investigation uncovered that more than 180 people had filed sexual assault lawsuits, police reports, and state board complaints against Massage Envy spas, its employees, and the national company. What was possibly even more disturbing, however, was the discovery that Massage Envy as a corporation did not have a specific standard of practice when it comes to regarding such allegations at its locations. Since then, Massage Envy CEO Joseph Magnacca has made a statement on Massage Envy’s stance on the situation.
In a statement shared on the Massage Envy website, Magnacca said “I, like so many of you, continue to be sickened and so disheartened by the stories that have recently been published about sexual misconduct at Massage Envy franchise locations. We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and to those who suffered, I am deeply sorry.” Magnacca continued on to say how the brand was working with victim’s rights groups, industry associations, and sexual violence experts to help determine a definitive plan to prevent and protect clients and therapists from harmful situations. While the plan was being devised, Magnacca added that all Massage Envy locations were required to review, re-communicate, and recommit to safety and reporting policies. All massage therapists’ files were re-reviewed to ensure all background and personal reference checks were completed, as well as license, certifications, and continuing education courses were up to date. The franchise also enlisted the help of an accredited third-party background screening company to re-screen each of the 20,000 licensed massage therapists within the Massage Envy Network.
On December 5, Massage Envy shared its new six-point commitment to safety plan. The plan’s six points include prevention, reporting, investigations, reviews, support, and guidance. To prevent sexual assault from ever happening in the future, the brand is mandating updated background screening for all massage therapists on an annual basis. For reporting, the brand is 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. To investigate, Massage Envy is creating a qualified list of independent, third-party resource that will be made available to assist franchisees in their investigations of sexual assault claims. For reviews, Massage Envy is partnering with Rainn, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. Rainn experts will be reviewing Massage Envy’s policies and procedures, including reporting and investigating, and will recommend changes as seen fit. Rainn will also be aiding Massage Envy by providing response services, including victim support, and free access to immediate and confidential assistance, trained staff, and other resources through the National Sexual Assault Hotline.
The brand is also forming the Massage Envy Safety Advisory Council, a group which will initially include a representative from Rainn to help development, maintain, and implement strong safety and support standards for all Massage Envy franchisees, therapists, and clients. The brand also created a new corporate department that will lead the development and implementation of safety policies, supported by both Rainn and the Advisory Council.