A Florida woman is suing the massage parlor chain, Massage Envy, after she was refused service for being HIV-positive.
According to Florida’s Local 10 News, Alecia Tramel went in for a monthly massage at an Aventura location when she was was asked about her medical history.
Once Tramel, who was diagnosed in 2000 and in that time has since become an HIV activist, told the worker she was living with HIV, she says the employee told her to “get undressed to your underwear, get on the table and cover up” before leaving the room.
However, when the employee returned, she informed Tramel, “We will not be able to provide you with a service because you need a doctor’s consent.”
“[The] first time in 19 years I feel devastated, but instead of it making me want to crawl under a rock, it fueled me,” Tramel told Local 10 News. Now, she is filling a lawsuit against the owners of the franchise, J&G Holdings of Aventura.
“I went to the car, sat in the car, and I said, ‘This is what it feels like.’ I think I was numb,” Tramel reflected. “I felt pain, isolation and fear from a place I went to get a service.”
Her lawyer, Courtney Cunningham, is confident Tramel will have justice. In 1988, Florida was one of the first states to pass protections for people with HIV under statute 760.50.
"You can't discriminate in the provision of services, public accommodations, which Massage Envy is," Cunningham said to reporters. "You can't discriminate in providing services to people who are HIV-positive just because they are HIV-positive."
As Local 10 News points out, “The Florida Department of Health's Florida Board of Massage Therapy requires three hours of HIV/AIDS education to be included in the curriculum of any massage training in Florida. People completing a Florida massage apprenticeship must also cover three hours of HIV education during the apprenticeship.”