In typical tabloid fashion, we read about the plight of two Virgin Atlantic lounge masseuses:
Beauty therapists Jayne Evans, 40, and Michelle Hindmarch, 35, each developed chronic muscular strain – including pain in their shoulders, upper back and wrists – after giving intensive shiatsu massages at the airline’s Terminal 3 “Clubhouse” lounge at Heathrow.
Their barrister, Theodore Huckle, told the High Court that both women were “devastated” at being forced to abandon their careers as a result of their injuries.
Muscular aches and pains mean the women cannot carry out a range of household tasks including peeling carrots or “taking the Sunday roast out of the oven”, the court heard.
Something about this story–beyond The Telegraph’s reporting style–rubs me the wrong way. While I am sympathetic to their plight, I am not convinced that a lawsuit is the appropriate remedy for the (well, let’s face it) natural effects of your chosen career.
Virgin Atlantic do not dispute liability for the two women’s injuries, but are contesting the amount of compensation due to them and the extent of their injuries.
Their symptoms, the court was told, were caused by working overlong shifts, and by using shiatsu pressure-point techniques “with heavy pressure and at fast pace”.
Most of their customers – who were always clothed so no could be lubricating oils used – were men who required heavier hand and finger pressure “involving particular strain on the thumbs”.
Mrs Evans “became distressed and was sent home” after a particularly strenuous session in October 2005 in which a “large male client” asked her to massage even harder than usual.
Well, you see a lot of large male clients in airport lounges–the sedentary lifestyle of the perpetual road warrior is not conducive to trim waistlines–and I find it curious that they are blaming Virgin Atlantic for forcing them to overexert their thumbs.
If I were Richard Branson, I would immediately eliminate the massage amenity in my Clubhouse lounges–apparently, they are more pain than they are worth.
I suppose my speculation is moot because Virgin has already claimed responsibility and is just working on a settlement amount, but as heartless as this sounds, "If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."
Having been in work situations where breaks are few and far between, I can understand the feeling of frustration Ms. Evans and Hindmarth must have felt when it was tea time and there was a line of people waiting for a massage, but unless Virgin was forcing them to work prolonged hours without rest, then I cannot cast the blame on Virgin.
Am I missing anything?