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Massage Envy unveils plan to improve customer safety after sexual assault allegations

07 Dec 2017
US franchisor Massage Envy has launched a plan called ‘A Commitment to Safety’ in the wake of allegations of sexual assaults at its spas.

The plan includes a partnership with an anti-sexual violence organisation and clearer steps for responding to sexual assault claims.

The reports of sexual assaults – made public as part of an investigative report by online news outlet BuzzFeed – include allegations from more than 180 women who have filed lawsuits, police reports and state board complaints saying they were sexually assaulted at Massage Envy franchised spas. The story has been widely publicised by US media outlets.

Last week, Massage Envy CEO Joseph C Magnacca issued a public statement, saying he was “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 behaviour,” Magnacca said.

He said he wanted to speak directly to victims and victims’ rights groups, as well as sexual violence experts, before defining a plan. In the meantime, he directed each location to review therapists’ files to ensure they had passed a background check, reference checks and that their licensure and certification are up to date.

Now, Magnacca has revealed a six-step plan to be rolled out over the coming weeks at Massage Envy franchise locations to “drive additional, meaningful change”.

The company is mandating updated background screening for all therapists on an annual basis and launching a third-party 'Universal Background Check Screening'. It will also require that if a client makes an allegation of sexual assault, franchisees provide contact information for local law enforcement and offer a private room to make the call to police.

A list of third-party resources is being created to help franchisees in their investigations of sexual assault claims.

Massage Envy is also partnering with RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organisation that 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 Massage Envy’s policies and procedures, including reporting and investigation, and recommend changes.

The Massage Envy Safety Advisory Council has been formed, which Magnacca says will “help us develop, maintain and implement strong safety and support standards”. A dedicated corporate department will also lead the development and implementation of safety policies, supported by both RAINN and the advisory council.

“The safety and wellbeing of members and guests has been our mission from day one, and our commitment has never been stronger,” said Magnacca.

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