A Florida woman filed a lawsuit against Massage Envy after she was refused service because she has HIV, reports WPLG Local10.com.
Alecia Tramel, who tested HIV positive in 2000 and is an advocate devoted to fighting stigma, said the incident occurred at a spa in Aventura, Florida, where she and a friend had appointments.
After being escorted to the massage room, Tramel said an employee asked her whether she had any medical conditions. Tramel said she is HIV positive. The employee, according to Tramel, told her to prepare for the massage. The woman then left.
Tramel told Local 10 News that when the woman returned, she told Tramel, “We will not be able to provide you with a service because you need a doctor’s consent.”
“I was like, ‘Wow, I know I was discriminated against. I don’t need a doctor’s note for a massage. That was their way of not servicing me,” Tramel told the news investigators. “I went to the car, sat in the car, and I said, ‘This is what it feels like.’ I think I was numb. I felt pain, isolation and fear from a place I went to get a service.”
Tramel said she had visited a different Massage Envy location and had no problem getting a massage despite her HIV status.
According to Local 10 News, Florida and federal laws prevent HIV discrimination in the provision of services and public accommodations.
In related news, see our POZ cover story “Defying Discrimination” about taking action against stigma and discrimination. It includes tips on filing an HIV lawsuit.