Equinox Pilates Instructor Sues Masseur and the Gym Alleging Sexual Harassment

Equinox at 8950 Sunset Blvd.

A former Equinox masseur testified Monday that a Pilates instructor lied when she accused him of touching her in a sexual way while giving her a massage at the West Hollywood health club in 2016.

Derek Mallard, 51, told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury that 41-year-old Susan Bracken’s accusation left him upset.

“When somebody tells a lie on you, you get angry,” Mallard said.

Mallard and Equinox Holdings Inc. are both named as defendants in Bracken’s lawsuit, which was filed in August 2017, alleging sexual harassment, battery, and wrongful termination. Bracken was fired by Equinox managing agents in New York after she took a lengthy leave of absence to get counseling for her ordeal, even though local human resources employees knew the decision could clash with California law, the complaint alleges.

According to her court papers, Bracken is a career dancer who had taught Pilates for nine years. She moved to California in 2013 and began working at Equinox’s West Hollywood club, which is located at 8950 Sunset Blvd., the next year.

Bracken was a good employee who was well-liked by her co-workers and Equinox members and was promoted to senior Pilates instructor, according to her court papers. During her employment, she says she was referred to Mallard for massage therapy and began trading services with him.

“She liked Mallard and began referring her Pilates clients to him,” her court papers say. “Mallard was very generous with giving massages to Ms. Bracken and would frequently offer to give them to her as a thank you for sending clients to him.”

But the massage Bracken received from Mallard on Sept. 3, 2016, was different, according to her court papers.

“Mallard began massaging Ms. Bracken and she noticed he was pushing on her much harder than usual, to the point of being painful,” the suit alleges. “Ms. Bracken told Mallard he was hurting her. He dismissed her complaint and told that she had a lot of tension.”

After Mallard began “pushing the boundary,” Bracken maintains she got up and got dressed.

But in his testimony, Mallard said the deep-tissue massage session ended with a show of gratitude by Bracken.

“She thanked me,” he said.

Mallard said he was surprised when management questioned him about the massage a few days later because Bracken never gave any indication she was uncomfortable during the session. He said he did not have any romantic interest in Bracken.

Mallard said he was hired by Equinox in 2012 and left four years later.


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Gimmeabreak
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Gimmeabreak

I know first-hand what Mallard is going through because it has happened to me twice. The first time could have cost me my job (and career), and the second time could have sent me to prison. The first accusation was cleared up when one of the accusers admitted they had lied, and even detailed how and why they cooked up the whole story. The second time, years later, a woman was proven to have lied when witnesses who she said were not even present at the time of the alleged incident were proven to be present by electronic equipment. And… Read more »

NoGrayLine
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NoGrayLine

This story is conducive to the Florida region as well where a massage therapist was accused of inappropriate or uncomfortable contact with both members and associates alike. The first offense was breezed over and the therapist was demoted and relocated to another facility. Later, the massage therapist conduct himself in the same manner with the associates and members of his new facility but this time the complaint was lodged by a member first, and unanimously agreed upon by associates after the fact.

Michael Grace
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Michael Grace

Bring back “Men Only” gyms and avoid this “#metoo” malarky. It doesn’t work in WEHO. Just look at Ex-Mayor John Duran. He’s made WEHO #nometoo.

Gimmeabreak
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Gimmeabreak

I agree, Michael Grace. 24 Hour Fitness needs some competition. They’re not even trying anymore. I would join a “Men Only” gym in a NY minute!