In November a Buzzfeed News investigation found that over 180 people have filed complaints, police reports, and lawsuits against the chain Massage Envy and its employees for sexual assault. Now the company is making changes to their sexual assault policy, which—until now—provided little guidance on how individual spa owners could look into misconduct and assault claims.
Massage Envy claimed that because of their business model of selling franchise agreements, the company was not liable for what happens during the day-to-day operations of individual spa locations. But now, Buzzfeed News reports that the following new policies have been created:
- Spas will be now required to give contact information for local law enforcement and a private room in which to call from should a Massage Envy client or employee report sexual assault.
- Massage therapists will undergo background checks every year instead of just when they’re hired.
- The company now has a partnership with RAINN, which will work with Massage Envy to review the company’s assault policies and procedures. RAINN will also set up a reporting hotline and will serve on Massage Envy’s new “safety advisory council.”
Massage Envy Franchising’s CEO, Joseph C. Magnacca, told Buzzfeed that the company has already seen a “relatively moderate” drop-off in membership due to the investigation into assault claims.
Buzzfeed also reports that since their investigation, former Massage Envy employees have also alleged that the company mishandled claims made by massage therapists. The company says that complaints made by employees, whether towards colleagues or clients, will be handled the same as those made by clients.
“Just as our therapists, managers, and franchisees are ready, willing, and able to ensure the safety of members and guests, we, too, are laser focused on providing a safe environment for those 20,000 therapists who make the business what it is today, and what it will be tomorrow,” Massage Envy’s general counsel Melanie Hansen told Buzzfeed.