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Bikini baristas sue Everett in federal court, city pauses enforcement

EVERETT — A group of bikini baristas last week sued the city in federal court arguing that a recently adopted minimum dress code for coffee stands and similar quick-serve places violates the baristas’ constitutional freedoms. They want the rulebook thrown out.
The case was filed Monday, Sept. 11 in U.S. District Court in Seattle. On Friday, Sept. 15, the city chose to suspend enforcing the rules for several weeks.
Last month, the city introduced a broad prohibition on baring too much skin with ordinances aimed to help stamp out adult coffee stands where lewd sex acts have happened. The ordinance has a “three strikes” style of violations that ends with a location losing its city operating license.
“We are confident that the city will prevail and the ordinances will be upheld,” city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said on Friday, Sept. 15.
The city suspended enforcement to avoid litigating a temporary restraining order against the ordinances, Pembroke said.
The baristas’ attorney describes that the dress code is written with such exact specifications that it would require a compliance officer to measure a woman’s breasts and legs practically
in millimeters. A city attorney has publicly said the suggestion they’d be breaking out rulers is bunk.
The city suggests at minimum that a tank top and shorts are acceptable for employees at drive-through places, and it spread a flyer with sketches showing the acceptable norms to stand owners.
A bikini is a uniform of empowerment, the baristas’ attorneys argue in their opening court complaint papers.
The City Council approved the dress code ordinance in part to strengthen law
enforcement efforts to halt sex acts at certain stands. At the time, opponents largely from the bikini barista industry said if halting lewd conduct is the goal, each stand should be evaluated on a
stand-by-stand basis instead of shutting down the basic model all these stands operate from.
A group of seven bikini baristas and the owner of the coffee stand chain Hillbilly Hotties filed the lawsuit.
Damages were not outlined in the complaint.
A press release from an attorney representing the baristas reads that the ordinance “intentionally targeted women.”
Barista Leah Humphrey said in the release that the bikini barista ban “set back women’s rights by fifty years.”
The city had not filed a response in court as of Thursday.
The firm Newman DuWors of Seattle is representing the baristas; it advertises itself as specializing in “disputes involving technology, advertising and intellectual property.”
The city may soon set an agreement with Pacifica Law Group of Seattle for representation.

 

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