Town wins appeal on Massage Establishment Local Law. Appellate court finds that Plaintiff in case did not have standing.
The Greenburgh Town Board unanimously approved legislation in 2015 that addresses a problem that exists around the nation: massage establishments being used for illegal activity including prostitution. The goal was to give the police the tools they need to close permanently all “adult” massage businesses in unincorporated Greenburgh that employ persons that are not licensed by the State of New York as massage therapists. The law has been successful and the illegal spa’s in the town have been permanently shut down since the legislation went into effect.
Representatives of the American Massage Therapy sued the town trying to overturn the law. We just received word that the Appellate Division of the NYS Supreme Court has ruled for the town. The law will stay in effect. A copy of the decision is attached.
The law employs a novel three-pronged approach. First, the Town outlaws all “massage parlors,” which are defined as massage businesses that employ unlicensed personnel. Second, the Town requires all massage establishments to apply for a license, which will give police the opportunity to conduct background checks to determine whether the applicants have a history of hiring unlicensed massage workers. Third, once licensed, all massage establishments in Town must then obtain a special permit in order to comply with the Town’s zoning code.
Prior to the law some spas advertised on the internet offering “adult entertainment.” These advertisements typically feature photographs of scantily clad young women with wording that strongly suggests that sexual services could be obtained at these businesses.
In addition, according to police, patrons of these businesses would often publish online reviews, describing the various sexual services available and the prices for which they were offered."
Without the law police would conduct undercover raids, but would only be able to target the women who work in these businesses – and not the men who typically employed them – and charge the women not with prostitution, which is difficult and expensive to prove — but with offering massage services without a license, which is much easier to prove and is a Class E Felony in New York.
The town had worked with Edgemont community leaders and other civic leaders prior to enacting the legislation. I am pleased with this court ruling and feel that our law is a model for other communities.