Lawsuit: Florida Massage Franchise Location ‘Hid’ Sexual Abuse
Recently, the Sun Sentinel filed a report on a very disturbing case arising out of South Florida. According to allegations raised in a recent lawsuit filed in a court in Palm Beach County, several female customers of Massage Envy, the largest chain of franchise massage spas in the entire country, were victims of sexual abuse committed by the company’s staff members.
The plaintiffs (nearly a dozen female customers of Massage Envy) allege that they were sexually abused at several franchise locations throughout the state of Florida. Here, our West Palm Beach franchise law attorneys discuss the allegations raised in this highly disturbing local case.
Allegations: Florida Massage Envy Franchises Covered Up Sexual Misconduct
The allegations raised in this lawsuit are extremely upsetting. According to the plaintiffs in the case, massage therapists at several South Florida Massage Envy locations abused female customers during their massage therapy sessions. Among other things, the allegations include non-consensual sexual touching.
Even more concerning, the lawsuit alleges that Massage Envy had an internal policy that was designed to protect its brand at the expense of the safety of its customers. The legal representatives of the plaintiffs contend that staff members of Massage Envy were actively discouraged from reporting sexual abuse allegations that were raised against their co-workers to law enforcement authorities. Instead, these allegations of sexual abuse were swept under the rug.
Can a Franchisor Be Held Legally Liable for Misconduct at Franchise Locations?
When serious misconduct occurs, both franchisors and franchisees can potentially be held legally liable for the wrongful act. In general, employees of a specific location are the responsibility of the individual franchisee. However, this does not mean that franchisors are automatically immune from liability in these cases. When misconduct occurs that involves a franchisee, or multiple franchisees, the franchisor may bear partial or total liability.
Ultimately, these issues must always be judged on a case-by-case basis. If a customer was harmed because of the negligence or misconduct of the franchisor, that company can be held legally liable for any resulting damages. For example, if the allegations raised in this lawsuit — that Massage Envy had a company wide policy that led to the ‘covering up’ of sexual abuse by massage therapists — are proven to be true, the company can absolutely be held legally liable as a franchisor. While the individual franchisees may also be liable, a systematic problem may be the legal responsibility of the franchisor.
Get Help From a South Florida Franchise Law Attorney Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our South Florida franchise law attorneys have the skills and experience required to provide the best legal representation to both franchisors and franchisees. If your franchise business is involved in any type of legal dispute, we are prepared to advocate for your interests.
To schedule a fully private consultation, please reach out to our legal team today. With a primary office in West Palm Beach and a second location in Miami, we are well-positioned to serve communities all around South Florida.