PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – A Pinellas County woman is suing her former employer, Massage Envy in Palm Harbor, for failing to protect her from sexual harassment.

A 16-page complaint filed Wednesday said a 68-year-old massage therapist repeatedly sexually harassed Maralee Strickhouser, causing her physical and emotional harm. She claims after she reported the harassment, his behavior only got worse.

“Ms. Strickhouser is a survivor of a toxic and hostile environment which led to her being assaulted and battered by a male massage therapist,” her attorney Daniela Carrion said.

Strickhouser worked as a front desk associate at the Palm Harbor Massage Envy from December 2019 through April 2021.

“And it got to the point whenever I saw his car in the parking lot I would dread going to work in fear of what he would say or do that day,” she said.

Strickhouser said her harasser would proposition her for sex, make sexually suggestive comments on her Instagram page and inappropriately touch her in the workplace.

“The worst part was the poking arm touches and the constant trying to put his arms around me when walking,” she said. “I must have told him a dozen times to stop, to please not talk to me this way or touch me.”

News Channel 8 reached out to Massage Envy’s corporate office for comment and received this statement about the lawsuit:

“Massage Envy is committed to promoting a safe environment for members, guests and service providers at each of the over 1,100 independently owned and operated franchised locations nationwide. We urge anyone who experiences anything other than a safe, quality massage to report it immediately to the franchised location so that it can be investigated. We cannot comment on pending allegations or litigation involving any independently owned and operated franchised location.”

Strickhouser explained why she is speaking out about the sexual harassment she says she endured.

“To empower others to share their stories and to speak up because the massage industry and Massage Envy this happens frequently and we don’t talk about it enough or hold people accountable,” she said.

Strickhouser is demanding a trial by jury.