Types of Disciplinary Actions Taken By the Board of Massage Therapy

By Castillana F. Duvernay, J.D.

The Florida Board of Massage Therapy can take disciplinary actions against you and your massage establishment if you are not adhering to the rules and regulations set forth by the Board of Massage Therapy and the statutes that govern the practice of massage.

We see common themes and issues that arise at Board of Massage Therapy meetings. This blog will highlight some of these issues and provide tips on how you can avoid being disciplined.

The Practice Act for Massage Therapists Requires Disclosure of Prior Disciplinary History.

If you did not disclose your prior disciplinary history (prior criminal conviction, prior discipline on a professional license) on your application, this may subject you to an administrative complaint by the Florida Department of Health and the Board of Massage Therapy.

Not disclosing disciplinary history information is a violation of Section 480.046(1)(p), Florida Statutes, and Section 480.041(6), Florida statutes. It is imperative that you answer the history questions on your application truthfully. Answering the questions truthfully will help speed up your application.

Licensed Massage Establishment.

In Florida, the practice of massage therapy is governed by Florida Statutes. The Department of Health is the umbrella agency that is charged with enforcing the laws and rules and is over the Board of Massage Therapy.

It is a felony offense to practice, attempt to practice, or offer to practice a regulated healthcare profession, including massage therapy, without possessing a valid license. Reflexology is included under massage therapy and requires a license in Florida.

Working at a massage parlor that isn’t duly licensed is a violation of Section 480.043(1), Florida Statutes, which states: “No massage establishment shall be allowed to operate without a license granted by the department in accordance with the rules adopted by the board.”

Before working for a massage establishment or opening up your own massage parlor, it is imperative that you have the proper documentation to show that you are a duly licensed massage establishment as required by Section 480.043, Florida Statutes. If you do not have the proper documents, the ramifications can be severe. This can lead to complaints being filed against you and the establishment which may lead to arrest by law enforcement, a Uniform Unlicensed Activity Citation (fine), or the subject will be issued a Cease and Desist letter.

Education Discrepancies.

Prior to attending a massage school, make sure it is a Board-approved massage school. One of the ways to do this is to request information about the accreditation of the school from the school staff or its designated accrediting agency. Alternatively, you may go to the Florida Massage Therapy website and search for a list of Florida approved Massage Schools.

The Board of Massage Therapy has a Massage School Approval Requirements Checklist and Information on their website that you can use as guide to help you decide if the school is following the guidelines set forth by the Board of Massage Therapy. In addition, the Board of Massage Therapy has a closed program list showing you which schools are closed and no longer operating. Furthermore, they also have a list of approved schools. Of course with each of these options, it is always best practice to contact the board of massage therapy to inquire about a school that you may be interested in attending.

Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Activity.

Sexual misconduct and sexual activity has been a hot topic for the board for several years. Engaging in sexual misconduct with a client or patient is a violation of Section 480.0485, Florida Statutes.

It is important that you do not exceed the boundaries of the massage that you are performing. Follow the generally accepted treatment of massage therapy patients. Do not accept offers from anyone, and don’t offer extra services to anyone that is not a part of the listed services offered by the massage establishment. Exceeding the scope of the massage will not only lead to disciplinary action by the board of massage therapy, but it may lead to a criminal record.

Displaying Licensure.

Failure to conspicuously display establishment license and massage therapist license may lead to disciplinary action. It is extremely important that upon opening your own massage parlor that you place all of your licenses in a place where it can be seen.

Procedures for Reporting Human Trafficking.

Not having procedures in place for reporting suspected human trafficking may lead to disciplinary action. Pursuant to Section 480.043(13), Florida Statutes, massage establishments must implement a procedure for reporting suspected human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline or to a local law enforcement agency. A sign detailing this reporting procedure must be posted in a conspicuous place in the establishment that is accessible to employees.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Massage Therapists and Other Healthcare Professionals.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to massage therapists in Department of Health investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers. The Health Law Firm routinely represents massage therapists, dentists, nurses, physicians, medical groups, clinics, and other healthcare providers in personal and facility licensing issues.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: Castillana F. Duvernay, J.D. is a new lawyer with The Health Law Firm which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030.


“Closed School List.” https://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/forms/mt-closed-schools-11-14.pdf

“Florida Approved Massage Schools List.” https://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/forms/massage-list-school.pdf

Florida Board of Massage Therapy. “Are massage establishments required to have procedures for reporting human trafficking?” https://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/help-center/are-massage-establishments-required-to-have-procedures-for-reporting-human-trafficking/

Florida Board of Massage Therapy. “Education and Training Programs.” https://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/education-and-training-programs/

Florida Board of Massage Therapy. “Unlicensed Activity (ULA).” https://floridasmassagetherapy.gov/latest-news/unlicensed-activity-ula/


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