MassageGate: Former Dept. of Ecology Employee Gave Massages On the Clock

According to an audit released Monday, a former state Department of Ecology employee gave more than 85 hours of free massages to coworkers while on the clock last year. As Brian Rosenthal of the Seattle Times reported earlier today, the female employee - who has since left the department - was attending a massage-therapy school and was required to practice her craft in order to obtain a license.

And practice she did - a total of 67 massages, all on the state’s dime.

As the Times notes, “Her 67 massages typically lasted between an hour and an hour and a half, according to the report. They occurred throughout the year but peaked in August, when she spent 15 hours of state time giving massages.”

Not surprisingly, auditors found that the massages and massage-related emails sent on the Dept. of Ecology computer system represented a violation of the state ethics law. In response to the findings, the Dept. of Ecology plans to talk with the former employee’s supervisors and issue a reminder that, well, on-the-clock massage work is to be avoided.

Vexed by the uproar surrounding the ethics-breaching rubdowns, Seattle Weekly’s Ellis Conklin notes that ecology, by definition, is “the scientific study of interactions among organisms and their environment.” Surely massage counts as an interaction among organisms, Conklin argues.

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