MASSAGE ENVY: Franchisee Fetish Afoot!

Franchisee Fetish Afoot!  Massage Envy Employees Seek 10-Digit Payday!

Something doesn’t smell quite right about this story.  But be forewarned… it’s NSL (Not Safe for Lunch).

If your boss offered you a new BMW and $30,000 per month to let him/her smell and fondle your feet, how would you react?

Would you:

A)  Run screaming from the room?

B)  Kick off your shoes and put those little piggies to work?

C)  Say “Make it a Porsche and I’ll throw in the ankles for free”?

D)  Keep working for the boss for low wages despite his repeated attempts to sniff and rub your feet over his face, then sue when your hours are cut?

It seems that two employees of a Massage Envy franchise would rather sue than un-shoe

Here’s an excerpt from the bizarre report on Courthouse News Service:

SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – Two women who worked at a Massage Envy franchise claim their boss offered them money to smell their feet. One claims that after he “forcefully grabbed” her feet and took off her shoes, he “sniffed them in a lustful manner.” The other woman claims franchise owner John Johnson offered her “up to $30,000 per month” and a BMW if she would let him do it.

*  *  *  *  *

[Danielle] Wade claims that Johnson told her “that he wanted her to ‘check-in’ with him and that he would pay her each time. He told her that she would make up to $30,000 per month,” according to the complaint.

The complaint continues: “Mr. Johnson promised Ms. Wade that he would buy her a BMW automobile if she complied with his gestures. Mr. Johnson further told Ms. Wade he would sign a document indicating he would pay her for her the services.”

Wade says she refused. However, she says, Johnson then told her to “come into his office to talk with him. Once in the office, Mr. Johnson proceeded to lie down on the floor and removed Ms. Wade’s boots and said he wanted to massage her feet and smell them. Ms. Wade objected and put her boots back on and left his office. Ms. Wade was in shock, and shaking as she left Mr. Johnson’s office.”

Co-plaintiff Odette Provost’s allegations are more alarming….

“Mr. Johnson then forcefully grabbed Ms. Provost’s feet and proceeded to take off Ms. Provost’s shoes. Ms. Provost objected to the assault, stating that he was ‘weird’ and that her feet stunk.

“Mr. Johnson stated that he enjoyed when her feet stunk and that it just made him more of a slave to her. Mr. Johnson proceeded to rub Ms. Provost’s feet over his face and sniffed them in a lustful manner.

“Ms. Provost was in shock and frightened during the incident and could not run away.

“Mr. Johnson told Ms. Provost ‘not to say anything to anyone.’ Mr. Johnson then wrote Ms. Provost a check for $100. Mr. Johnson did not state what the check was for.

“Ms. Provost felt ashamed, frightened, and humiliated.”

Then, Provost claims, it happened again.

According to the complaint: “Mr. Johnson asked Ms. Provost if she was available for some training in his office.

“Once in the office, they began discussing issues related to the business. Suddenly, Mr. Johnson jumped to the floor, removed Ms. Provost’s shoes, and started sniffing and rubbing her feet over his face.

“Ms. Provost was frightened and told him to stop. Mr. Johnson stopped and left the office. These incidents created a hostile work environment for Ms. Provost as she could not predict when Mr. Johnson would attack her again.”

The complaint continues: “A district manager for Massage Envy Ltd., L.L.C, was informed of the incidents and stated that Mr. John Johnson was a franchisee, and corporate headquarters could not control a franchisee, and he could ‘Do what he wants.’

“Defendants took no disciplinary action against John Johnson or the franchise in response to Ms. Provost’s claims of sexual harassment and battery.

“Ms. Provost was retaliated against through a reduction in pay and hours. Management and certain employees then took a campaign upon themselves to force Ms. Provost to leave her job.”

The women seek punitive damages for gender discrimination, negligent supervision, assault, battery, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They are represented by Kevin Robson with Bertch Robson of Salt Lake City.


Tip o’ the hat to Oldsword and BlueMauMaufor spotting this story.  Photo credit:  EverJean, License:  Creative Commons

76 thoughts on “MASSAGE ENVY: Franchisee Fetish Afoot!

  • October 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I am an over the road trucker who ran across this debate while looking into massage therapy for my back problems. While guest has taken a lot of shots at your profession, it’s sad that RN and others have to defend themselves by insulting the professions of other hardworking Americans.

    Since when did “truck driver” become a derogatory term? What is wrong with being a burger flipper? Maybe you should think twice before you insult the professions of your potential customers. Or are Massage Therapists and RNs too good to accept truckers and “burger flippers” as clients?

  • October 17, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Wow dude, you are a real winner. I hope they jump off a bridge, because then you will have rid society of yourself. There is absolutely no reasoning with you because you don’t see reason, just ignorance. I think it’s safe to say that we aren’t going to waste anymore time or energy on a child. I’m sorry that your life is so dull.

  • October 17, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Proud Trucker: there was no insult made to truck drivers, period. This guy Guest is being a total jerk and making stuff up to stir up an argument. He has even made up a profession called image consultant which is total BS. HE is uneducated not the profession of driving a big rig across country. Me being an RN have actually lived in a RV which I know is nothing like a big rig, but drove cross county in it several times. I have respect for drivers who do this. Please don’t get sucked into this guys’ ranting. HE is the one I am referring to as being uneducated.

    Guest: I did not answer any of your comments with vulgar insults. Hope you never have a heart attack if you think my skills are so poor. If I knew who were my back might go out., since you think I am fat and out of shape and my skill are lacking. Oh and let’s not forget I don’t respect myself…so why should I respect you.

  • October 17, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I’ll say it again, I have nothing left to say to you. NOTHING!

  • October 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    RN: Of course you have immense respect for truckers. That’s why the worst insult you could hurl at me was “Your [sic] a truck driver… someone who makes crap up and is obviously uneducated.” Of course, you also insulted everyone in the restaurant industry with “Go back to your burger flipping…”

    Guess that quote about intellectual dishonesty was spot on. Makes me wonder if you really did drive an RV once or if you just said that to seem in touch with the common man you just dissed.

    B said “I’ll say it again, I have nothing left to say to you. NOTHING!” Ha! You don’t need to keep proving it. You had me at “I am an idiot”

    Friend of an LMP: Wishing death on a stranger over a massage discussion seems a bit… extreme. Maybe you should aspire to be Friend of a Psychiatrist, hopefully one that will prescribe a powerful anti-psychotic. Don’t think the incense and deep tissue hot rock therapy is quite enough to control the darkness within. Pls get help before it’s too late.

  • October 17, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    “since you think I am fat and out of shape and my skill are lacking”
    RN: I never said you were fat. In fact, I don’t think you would have insulted “burger flippers” so meanly if you were a fattie. However, I do find it disturbing that you cannot perform CPR, a requirement of your job, in a life threatening situation without throwing your back out.
    It really doesn’t matter what certifications or knowledge you have if you are in too poor of a physical condition to perform critical duties, right? It seems that all of you want a high level of respect for being “health professional” yet you get upset when it’s suggested that you adhere to a minimal standard of professionalism yourselves.
    Sorry for the “tough love,” but be assured that the changes you want to see in others begins with changes you must make in yourself.

  • October 17, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Guest: for your information, I threw my back out because the height of the table the patient was on was too high and I did not have access to a step stool at the time of need. I STILL performed my duties with NO thought to my own self other than to save the live of someone else I did not even know! Because I am a health care professional I DID CPR in a position that was not condusive to my health but to ONLY save someone else, which I think you WOULD NOT!

    You are attacking a profession which you clearly know nothing about since your only accounts seem to with “happy endings”.

    I need no change in myself since there is nothing I need to change, other than stop arguing with you.

    P.S. You should be a lawyer since your only goal in life is to argue with a fence post.

  • October 17, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    oohhh…I hear “jeopardy” music in the background. “guest” is having to think really hard to have a come back.

    ” I suggest you ask the licensed personal trainers at Planet Fitness for some back exercises and also take a refresher course in CPR before you kill someone. Anyone who throws their back out is either using improper technique, is woefully out-of-shape, or both. Getting respect as a professional starts with having respect for yourself. ”

    ” I never said you were fat” YOU are such a liar you can’t even keep your own posts’ straight.

    Check Mate

  • October 17, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    “I threw my back out because the height of the table the patient was on was too high and I did not have access to a step stool at the time of need…”

    I’m sure the next of kin will find that excuse thoroughly acceptable when you explain to them why your back went out before you could do your job.The table was not the perfect height. No stepstool, of course! I’m sure strength conditioning of your back muscles would have no positive benefit. You’re the musculo-skeletal expert… no need to stay in shape… as long as you have perfect conditions to work in… And a stepstool on hand… your patients might survive.

    PS being out of shape is not synonymous with being overweight. Are you sure you went to nursing school?

  • October 17, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    “guest” : Never said my patient died you idiot! I do like how you take everything everyone says that you don’t agree with out of context. You sure your not a lawyer or politican? How did you even conceive my patient died? All I said was I hurt my back. And hurt my back…being..just pulled some muscles because of the height of the table..but then, you must have been there since you “know” so much. Are you sure your not God? You seem to be ALL knowing, and ALL seeing since you perceive to know everything. Or is that just wkipedia?

    And yes, I went to nursing school..what good that did. They only give you textbook learning in school. Until you get your hands on clinical you have no idea. But then again, I guess you knew that. Until you have your hands covered in someone’s blood and hold their heart in your hands to save them…you know then how precious life is…but, then again..I guess you know that since you seem to know everything.

    If you are truly a licensed image consultant for the medical field, which I doubt since I have NEVER heard of such. Then you would have a little more respect for those of us who try to help others. This also includes the profession you are attacking. Massage therapists, or at least the ones I know only want to help people. I want to help people which is why I do what I do. I risk infection from HIV, AIDS, Hep C, B, A, TB, MRSA and many many more diseases, yet I go to work everyday to help people.

    There are always “seedy” people out there. Massage just happends to one of them because of other “seedy” people out there to make it that way. Why can’t you just concede that there are massage therapists out there that truly believe in their work of helping people? Yes, there are good people in this world just as there are bad.

  • October 17, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    jeopardy music………………..look up wkipedia………………..nothing?

  • October 17, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    And you had me at asshole.

  • October 17, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    B: Nice! good show!

  • October 18, 2010 at 7:51 am

    RNs hold beating human hearts in their hands? Are you so starved for importance that you have to plaster your delusions of grandeur on unrelated blog posts? An RN who can’t perform CPR without throwing her back out is assisting in heart transplants now?

    Be honest. Holding human bedpans in your hands is a bigger part of your day than fondling internal organs. Jeffrey Dahmer also held human hearts and, frankly, I’m not that impressed with him either.

    And anyway, the subject is delusional massage therapists trying to pretend they’re doctors, not delusional nurses trying to pretend they’re doctors.

  • October 18, 2010 at 9:08 am

    guest: and then there’s the delusional idiot. Crawl back under your rock

  • October 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    For all you know RN is a surgical or trauma nurse. Doing CPR on a gurny, patient bed, or procedure table would give give anybody except Shaq a back ache, most people aren’t tall enough to get the leverage they need. Having been a Paramedic ( I left the field because of unionization of the profession in my area, which I felt protected paramedics who weren’t up to par), I have great respect for nurses and doctors however I find doctors to be the delusional ones not the nurses. The issue here is about sexual harassment, and assault in the work place. If the therapists in this case were found to have been making up these claims their license to practice massage would at very least be suspended, up to being permanently revoked. Therapists are and should have disciplinary actions taken against them when they use or participate in unethical, unprofessional, or illegal actions. The lack of propriety was shown by the employer not these employees. We should be more worried about the fact that these women had no other avenue than litigation to pursue for a case of sexual harassment in the work place than the fact that they are massage therapists. Guest have you ever been on the receiving end of a hostile work environment? If your answer is yes then you have a leg to stand on, if not then you probably can’t understand the real heart of the situation.

  • October 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    adelphia: Thank You! I am a cardiac interventional RN that works in a cardica cath lab! At least there is someone intelligent out there. :-)

  • October 18, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Yes, adelphia, thank you. You are right. It is irrelevant that these women are massage therapists. For all we know, the employer is too.

    Now that we have our thinking caps on, let’s look at the plausibility of Ms. Provost’s story

    1) She claims the boss forcefully grabbed her feet and took off her shoes. She objected because “her feet stunk”

    2) Provost claims Mr. Johnson proceeded to rubbed her feet over his face and “sniffed them in a lustful manner.”

    3) “Ms. Provost was in shock and frightened during the incident and could not run away.”

    4) Mr. Johnson wrote Provost a check for $100 and she accepted “Ms. Provost felt ashamed, frightened, and humiliated.”

    5) Provost not only returned to work, she accepted his invitation to go into his office for “some training.”

    6) She claims he suddenly “removed Ms. Provost’s shoes, and started sniffing and rubbing her feet over his face.”

    7) She continued to come to work but complains that her pay and hours were reduced. “Management and certain employees then took a campaign upon themselves to force Ms. Provost to leave her job.”

    8 ) “The women seek punitive damages for gender discrimination, negligent supervision, assault, battery, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They are represented by Kevin Robson with Bertch Robson of Salt Lake City.”

    This is like the joke about the diner who says the restaurant’s food is terrible and also complains that the portions are too small. Does anyone truly believe that this woman had her feet molested against her will multiple times, and she not only continued to come to work and be alone with the boss, but complained that she was not getting enough hours there?

    This is a classic case of extortion. The ambulance-chasing lawyer made the claims so embarrassing that he was sure the business owner would pay a settlement to stay out of court. The owner called his bluff, but will have his personal reputation destroyed in the process.

    It’s people like these women and their lawyer that really make it hard for REAL victims of harrassment to get justice. When the guy loses his business, all the MTs employed there will be the ones to suffer.

  • October 19, 2010 at 5:00 am

    The article states “Mr. Johnson told Ms. Provost ‘not to say anything to anyone.’ Mr. Johnson then wrote Ms. Provost a check for $100. Mr. Johnson did not state what the check was for.'” It does not say that she accepted the check. It is highly plausible that she refused the check and as a consequence of her refusal her hours and pay were cut. However if she was a contract employee which most Massage Therapists are no matter where you work, she should have signed an agreement guarantying her wage, cutting her wages constitutes fraud at best. The hours you work are controlled by the person booking the massages, if Mr. Johnson was the one doing the scheduling he could have given her fewer massage clients.

    . “Management and certain employees then took a campaign upon themselves to force Ms. Provost to leave her job.”This is her perception of the event, which I do not doubt because of this quotation “Defendants took no disciplinary action against John Johnson or the franchise in response to Ms. Provost’s claims of sexual harassment and battery” The defendants in this statement would most likely be Massage Envy Corp., and not the therapists involved since Ms. Wade and Ms. Provost would be the plaintiffs and not the defendants, the therapists are the ones instigating litigation. However it doesn’t say what the job title of “certain employees” who “took a campaign upon themselves to force Ms. Provost to leave her job” are or their job position at the establishment. They could be franchise partners and not the other therapists working at the franchise.

    I would like to know who this writer’s editor is because he leaves you with a vague sense that he didn’t know what was going on himself.

    I don’t think that this case warrants gender discrimination, Johnson employs other female therapist most likely, or assault, legally assault is an unlawful threat of an attempt to harm someone physically, I hear no mention of Johnson making threats against Wade or Provost, asking someone not to say anything does not constitute a threat, the fact that he touched their feet in an attempt to become aroused, and the girls didn’t like it makes it battery not assault. Negligent supervision, battery, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress seam plausible given the circumstances.

  • October 19, 2010 at 9:02 am

    In my humble opinion… Nobody took action against the defendant because obviously nobody believed these two low-life money-grubbing extortionists. It doesn’t take a genius to see that if this dude was the foot-rubbing freak they claim, the so-called victims wouldn’t keep coming back for more and willingly go into the back room with him. And wouldn’t the co-workers be on their side, instead of trying to get rid of them?

    And why would a facial foot rub be such a big deal to a full-time bodyrubber? Let’s be honest. Isn’t it just a bit implausible that a woman who will rub the various body parts of hundreds of strangers for an entire year for $35K would turn down $360,000 and a brand new BMW to let some dude sniff her skunky feet a few times a week?

    If the guy does have OCD, wouldn’t that be a valid wellness therapy that would relieve both of their anxieties? It would relieve the tension he gets when he doesn’t get to play “this little piggy” regularly and it would relieve her tension at not being able to pay off her Bloomingdale’s credit card. But since it’s not true, Bloomingdale’s will have to wait until they bankrupt the franchisee’s business and destroy his life. I’m sure their lawyer will get his cut first.

  • October 19, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Massage Envy didn’t take action because Johnson owns his franchise, what are they going to do to him say Mr. Johnson you payed $300,00 to us but we are taking away your franchise because you have a foot fetish. He doesn’t have anybody to answer to really. It’s not like they have an HR rep to complain to. As for allowing someone to fondle your feet in order to become aroused, this clearly goes against the standards of business ethics and professionalism established by the massage profession. I don’t know many women, be they massage therapists or not, that would allow someone to sniff their feet for money at work, its degrading. I don’t know where you live but do you have any idea of how prudish women, especially young women, in Utah are? Your estimate of these therapists making $35K a year at massage envy is grossly over estimated. They are payed $15/hr, and working 20-26 hrs a week is full time for a therapist making the grand total a meagerly $20,280 at most. Unfortunately all those commercials you see for massage schools advertising that you can make a good living doing massage are crap, I find them laughable because unless you where working full time at Mc Donalds on minimum wage you are not making double the salary in half the time. Massage Envy is the Sam’s Club of the massage world, unfortunately their employees have no rights because they are contract employees, you are hired and fired at will, there is no access to unemployment benefits if you become unemployed, and Massage is not a unionized profession as of yet, it is in the process though, so there is no one to register complaints to about an employer but the state. Johnson was using quid pro quo harassment tactics. Appropriate touch is something that is engrained in your brain when you go to massage therapy school, and having someone fondle your feet so they can be aroused at work is hardly appropriate.

  • October 19, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Johnson would have paid Massage Envy a $45K franchise fee. The rest of the investment goes to vendors, contractors, landlord, working capital. The reason they would not intervene in an employee dispute is that franchise companies are careful not to create an “agency” relationship between themselves and the franchisee’s employees. If the franchisor dictates or enforce HR policies, they incur all kinds of liability they do not want. Most won’t even supply a boilerplate employee handbook for that very reason.

    adelphia, for all the responses here it’s amazing that you all are so obviously avoiding the most basic flaw in these chicks’ money-massaging scheme: Seriously, girls, how many of you would troop right back to work, go for 1 on 1 “training” sessions and ask for more hours from a guy who allegedly trapped, attacked, groped and fondled you? Answer: you wouldn’t.

    Since the one chick was pushing for more hours, it’s safe to assume that if she had gotten them she never would have concocted or participated in this greedy scheme. These gals are no better than the stupid hag that stuck the human thumb in the Wendy’s chili to extort that franchisee. I hope they get a chance to put their bodyrubbing skills to work in a women’s prison where they belong.

  • October 26, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Wow…this blog got quiet. Guess everyone got tired of being belittled by someone who makes up a profession and is a total idiot.? At least everyone else on here had a real profession except for “guest”.

  • December 8, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    maybe the ‘guest’ is the fetishist… maybe wife of said fetishist

  • December 9, 2010 at 12:00 am

    I mean why so defensive….. really

  • March 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Input from those contrubutors referring to LMTs as “back rubbers” should have their comments excised from this discussion. What does name calling have to do with the original issue?

    Also, viewing LMT as sanything less than a profession says all one needs to know about a given contributor’s depth of knowledge of the profession (assuming they have any), and their misogynist tedencies. As a results their input is of NO value.

    Finally, if it is fair to call LMTs “back rubbers”, what should we call lawyers – recently referred to as a $600,000,000 drag on the economy *(Quote from the federal government)?

    Show some respect, or tell everyone what YOU do for a living and why that makes YOU qualified to judge others. Most here would be happy to belittle your profession for no reason at all.

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