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Posted: November 22, 2017

'Bikini baristas' in court battle over dress code law

Bikini barista (Photo via KIRO7.com)
KIRO7.com
Bikini barista (Photo via KIRO7.com)

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By KIRO7.com

EVERETT, Wash. —

The city of Everett, Washington, is looking to crack down on the dress code of “bikini baristas,” but the baristas are not backing down.

The baristas are arguing that their skimpy costumes fall under freedom of expression.

In recent court filings, the city claimed the coffee stands have a history of prostitution, sexual assault and exploitation.

One of Everett's new laws requires the workers to wear a minimum of tank tops and shorts. It specifically applies to employees at "quick service" restaurants, which also include fast food and food trucks.

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The other redefined the city's lewd conduct ordinance and created a new crime of facilitating lewd conduct. Both ordinances took effect in early September.

But seven bikini baristas and the owner of a chain of the coffee stands called "Hillbilly Hotties" sued the city to block the dress code in September, saying it's vague, unlawfully targets women, and denies them the ability to communicate through their attire. 

KIRO-TV asked a constitutional law attorney about that argument. 

“That is not a frivolous argument. One can see that this is conduct which may not be pure speech, but nevertheless is a conduct that does enjoy constitutional protections. The question is how much constitutional protection,” said constitutional law attorney Jeffrey Needle.

The Everett City Council unanimously passed the ordinances in August but halted the ban while the case is in court. 

A senior U.S. district court judge heard the arguments Tuesday in a federal Seattle court.


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