The coffee stands can remain open until the case challenging City of Everett ordinances is settled.
Despite its status as a blue state, a special set of entrepreneurs have figured out how to market one of Washinton’s iconic products: Coffee.
Perhaps inspired by the “Hooters” model for chicken wings, scantily clad women serve up delicious caffeinated drinks and a smile. The successful business model, however, was drawing concerns that criminal elements were attracted to bikini baristas.
In August of this year, one Washington city passed new restrictions on how much skin employees at local bikini barista stands can bare.
The ordinance requires that owners of so-called “quick service” food and beverage businesses ensure employees cover “minimum body areas” while on duty. That includes the breasts, torso and the top three inches of legs below the buttocks, the ordinance states.
Under the ordinance, the city clerk’s office will provide picture diagrams to help illustrate the new requirements.
The move comes amid what city officials have called a proliferation of crimes occurring at local bikini barista stands. Previously, Everett officials used the city’s lewd-conduct ordinance to regulate conduct at the stands. But the ordinance provided “little deterrent” to bad behavior, the ordinance states.
A group of plucky baristas then sued the city, alleging violations of their rights to free expression and privacy.
The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, claims the city’s new dress code not only violates workers’ rights to free speech, but discriminates against women since it essentially deprives them of work exclusively for females.
Appropriately enough, Amelia Powell chose the “naughty cop” costume when she dressed for work Monday at Everett’s Hillbilly Hotties bikini barista stand.
“It’s called ‘criminally sexy,'” she laughed.
This week, a federal judge ruled in favor of the bikini baristas and is allowing them to continue to operate as the lawsuit continues through court.
Multiple news outlets report U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman on Monday extended an injunction that prevents the city from enforcing the two laws.
The injunction means the coffee stands can continue to operate while the lawsuit filed by seven baristas and the owner of a chain of coffee stands called “Hillbilly Hotties” makes its way through court.
Pechman wrote that the ordinances — one that attempted to impose a dress code and another that redefined lewd conduct in the city — are likely void for vagueness under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Pechman also found the dress code ordinance likely violated First Amendment protections of freedom of expression.
Truly, this is a hot legal development.
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