The news spread quickly last week: About 200 Massage Envy franchise locations were being sued by more than 180 customers claiming sexual assault.

Massage Envy has released a letter to the massage profession as well as a statement about its new commitment to safety—both of which outline business practices being put in place following news that more than 180 customers have claimed sexual misconduct at the hands of employees of the popular franchise’s locations.

“The recent, heartbreaking stories of sexual assault suffered in Massage Envy franchised locations caused us to take a hard look at our business and to create a new ‘Commitment to Safety’ plan which defines a clear path forward and will create swift and meaningful change to the things we do to protect both clients and massage therapists across the Massage Envy network,” the letter reads in part.

Massage Envy is the largest massage franchise, founded in 2002. There are 1,199 Massage Envy franchise locations that employ about 20,000 massage therapists and estheticians total and serve 1.65 million members.

The Commitment to Safety plan lists six steps Massage Envy will take going forward in regard to assault allegations: prevention, reporting, investigations, review, support and guidance, and all are outlined in the statement signed by Joseph C. Magnacca, CEO.

Perhaps the weightiest aspect of this plan is that the Massage Envy franchise company will partner with RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the U.S.

“RAINN works to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice,” the Massage Envy statement reads. “Experts from RAINN will begin an end-to-end review of our policies and procedures—including reporting and investigation. They’ll recommend changes and together we will put change into action.”

The commitment to safety plan and letter to the massage profession follow:

A Commitment to Safety

Throughout Massage Envy’s 15-year history, safety in the treatment room has been—and always will be—paramount. The recent, heartbreaking stories of sexual assault suffered in Massage Envy franchise locations caused us to take a hard look at our business and at how we protect the members and guests who have placed their trust in the brand. Last week, we shared the first steps that we have taken. Today, we’re announcing a six-point plan, to drive additional, meaningful change. This plan will be rolled out and implemented across the network over the coming weeks.

Massage Envy Commitment to Safety

Prevention: We are mandating updated background screening for all massage therapists on an annual basis. We’re also launching a fully-automated, third-party system with UBS (Universal Background Screening), consistently rated the country’s top background screening company, that tracks compliance of service providers’ employment requirements in real time. And, the network has just recently completed a review of all massage therapist files to ensure they have completed background and reference checks, have current licensure or certification and that annual training requirements have been met.

Reporting: We are 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.

Investigations: We are creating a qualified list of independent third-party resources that we will make available to assist franchisees in their investigations of sexual assault claims.

Review: We are partnering with RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN works to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. Experts from RAINN will begin an end-to-end review of our policies and procedures — including reporting and investigation. They’ll recommend changes and together we will put change into action.

Support: We are working with RAINN on response services, including victim support, and -through the National Sexual Assault Hotline – free access to immediate confidential assistance, trained staff and other resources.

Guidance: We are forming the Massage Envy Safety Advisory Council. This group, which will initially include a representative from RAINN, as well as Danielle Dick, who was instrumental in advocating for this change, will help us develop, maintain and implement strong safety and support standards. We’ve also created a dedicated corporate department that will lead the development and implementation of safety policies, supported by RAINN and the Advisory Council. We believe the work we’re doing today can serve as a solid foundation for change across the industry, and we’re working with industry groups – like the American Massage Therapy Association – to move that conversation forward. The safety and well-being of members and guests has been our mission from day one and our commitment has never been stronger. We know that you put your trust in the brand, and we will keep working to earn it.

 

To the Massage Therapy Profession,

Massage Envy was founded 15 years ago by two people—one a massage therapist—who wanted to provide an affordable, accessible, and professional environment where massage therapists could practice their craft and where everyone, not just the elite, could experience the benefits of therapeutic massage. Safety has been at the core of our mission from day one. And this is upheld by the approximately 20,000 massage therapists employed in Massage Envy franchised locations today.

The recent, heartbreaking stories of sexual assault suffered in Massage Envy franchised locations caused us to take a hard look at our business and to create a new “Commitment to Safety” plan which defines a clear path forward and will create swift and meaningful change in the things we do to protect both clients and massage therapists across the Massage Envy network.

As part of our six-point plan, franchisees are required to give not just clients, but also therapists who report an allegation of sexual assault, contact information for local law enforcement and offer a private room to complete the call. We will make independent, third-party resources available to assist franchisees in their investigations of sexual assault claims, including those made by therapists.

Our partnership with RAINN, a leading advocate for assault victims, will help us strengthen the policies that protect therapists, empower them to voice their concerns, and better equip managers and franchisees to handle the complexities of sexual misconduct, no matter who comes forward for assistance. In addition, we will include therapists and representatives of industry associations on the Massage Envy Safety Advisory Council.

The six-point plan builds on what we already do to support and protect therapists.

Therapists at Massage Envy franchised locations are trained by their local management to handle inappropriate conduct by a client, and that includes immediately stopping the service and reporting any inappropriate conduct by a client. If a client is inappropriate with a therapist, the franchisee is required to restrict the client from visiting any Massage Envy franchised location nationwide, and if they are members, to cancel their membership agreement.

You can read the full “Commitment to Safety” Plan here.

Just as we and our franchisees are committed to client safety, we too are laser-focused on providing a safe environment for those 20,000 therapists in the Massage Envy franchise network who make the business what it is today, and what it will be tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Joseph C. Magnacca, CEO

 

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