A federal judge recently ruled in favor of a Washington state bikini barista stand, striking down the city of Everett’s dress code ordinance that required the bikini clad workers to cover up.
The city passed an ordinance in 2017 requiring “quick service” workers to cover their upper and lower body, the Daily Herald reported. The owner of the stand, Hillbilly Hotties, and several of its employees challenged the rule, arguing the outfits are a method of self-expression and that the rule violated their First Amendment rights.
A U.S. District Court in Seattle found the city’s dress code violated the Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. and Washington state constitutions.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez issued a 19-page ruling explaining that the ordinance was at least partially shaped by a gender-based discriminatory purpose.
“The record shows this Ordinance was passed in part to have an adverse impact on female workers at bikini barista stands,” Martinez wrote. “There is evidence in the record that the bikini barista profession, clearly a target of the Ordinance, is entirely or almost entirely female. It is difficult to imagine how this Ordinance would be equally applied to men and women in practice.”
The ruling noted the ordinance bans clothing “typically worn by women rather than men,” such as midriff and scoop-back shirts, as well as bikinis.
“Assuming the owners of bikini barista stands are unable or unwilling to enforce this dress code, at some point law enforcement will be asked to measure exposure of skin by some method,” the ruling said. “This ‘encourage(s) a humiliating, intrusive, and demoralizing search on women, disempowering them and stripping them of their freedom.’”
The city of Everett must now meet with the plaintiffs within 14 days to discuss next steps.
The bikini barista stand also challenged the city’s lewd conduct ordinance, which expanded the definition of a lewd act to include exposure of “more than one-half of the part of the female breast located below the top of the areola,” “the genitals, anus, bottom one-half of the anal cleft or any portion of the areola or nipple of the female breast.” It made it a crime to facilitate lewd conduct.
However, the court dismissed all of the barista’s claims aside from those related to the dress code ordinance.