Court Battles

Federal appeals court rules ‘bikini baristas’ may have to wear more clothes

Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Rock'n'Roll Marathon

A group of Seattle-area baristas who argued in court that they should not be restricted from serving drinks in bikinis and other revealing clothing may have to cover up ⁠— at least for now.

CNN reported Saturday that a federal appeals court ruled that women at an Everett, Wash., drive-thru coffee stand may have to cover up.

The ruling, made by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, vacated U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman’s 2017 decision that placed an injunction on a city ordinance requiring “quick-service facility” workers to wear, at minimum, shorts and a tank top.{mosads}

Another 2017 city ordinance broadened the city’s definition of “lewd” conduct to include public displays of certain body parts. The owner of Hillbilly Hotties, one such drive-thru coffee stand, sued over the city ordinances, claiming they violated baristas’ First and 14th Amendment rights.

The ordinances will now go into effect as the decision is sent back down to a lower court.

“The panel concluded that the vagueness doctrine did not warrant an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the Dress Code Ordinance,” Wednesday’s ruling stated, according to CNN. “The panel concluded that the mode of dress at issue in this case was not sufficiently communicative to merit First Amendment protection.”

City officials in Everett praised the court’s ruling, claiming that authorities had provided “extensive evidence of adverse secondary effects associated with the stands, including prostitution and sexual violence.”

“The city looks forward to enforcing its ordinances consistent with the Court’s decision and in the best interest of the community,” Everett city officials told CNN.

According to CNN, a city police investigation found that some baristas engaged in lewd conduct, while some were victimized by patrons. Police detailed that other crimes were associated with the stands, according to the ruling.

An attorney for the women told the news network that they will continue to battle the ordinance.

“The baristas are seeking to exercise their right to choose their work clothing,” the attorney said. “The baristas sought to express positive messages of body confidence and female empowerment. This decision effectively tells women that the female body must be covered up and hidden, and that women must be protected from themselves.”

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