6 Rochester massage therapy businesses under probation

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(ABC 6 News) – Happy Foot and Body Massage owner Hong Li thinks that her ethnicity may have led to her business being put on probation.

“I’ve worked here a long time and I think this year the inspection is not fair for me,” said Li.

Olmsted County has a new program in place to manage massage therapy businesses. County officials inspected all 38 businesses in Rochester, and said they found violations at six of them. This week the city council voted to put those businesses on probation. All six businesses Asian owned.

“They came here and didn’t ask me if I understand English or offer me an interpreter,” said Li.

But in Monday’s city council meeting that story is much different.

“So, during the inspections we were very purposeful if there was English as a second language or a language challenge, we did offer interpreter services right off the bat,” said task force member.

So, councilmember Molly Dennis was surprised to hear that this had happened.

“When I hear something like that it really makes my heart hurt because this is something that should not have been done. We need to make sure that people understand but not only understand, but be on the same playing field,” said Dennis.

Hong Li the owner of happy foot and body massage says that she didn’t violate any rules.

“I had a friend check with me on the ordinance and it didn’t say I couldn’t have close in here or that I couldn’t cook in here,” said Li.

Li says she was told she couldn’t have clothes or food in the business, but she says she goes to the gym in the morning, works long hours, and doesn’t always have time to cook at home.

During the meeting, city council member Dennis said she had concerns about a cultural barrier between the business owners and the inspectors. But the inspectors assured the council they took the necessary steps.

“Even if it’s a cultural difference we had mandarin interpreters at everyday probation conversation and were able to bridge that gap and say ok if this is cultural issue, we want you to be able to understand that the practice here, the ordinance here doesn’t allow for this,” said a task force member.