Coffee Stand

Bikini Baristas Sue Everett, Say Dress Code Unfair

The complainants claim that the bikini is a tool of empowerment.

A group of bikini baristas filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday, accusing the city of Everett of violating their civil rights.

The litigation is over the city’s recently passed ordinances that established a dress code for quick-service restaurants, including coffee shops. The baristas claim the ordinances unfairly target women.

The City Council approved the new rules in August, citing the criminal investigations in recent years that found some barista huts were operating as drive-thru brothels. The dress code requires employees at fast food restaurants, food trucks and coffee stands to wear a minimum of tank tops and shorts.

The city also expanded its definition of misdemeanor lewd conduct to include certain areas of exposed skin. The target was not traditional beachwear but G-string panties, stickers and body paints often worn at bikini stands, officials said.

The 23-page complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle. It alleges that baristas would be subjected to humiliating inspections to measure their breasts and buttocks to determine compliance. The bikini is a unique tool, protected by the First Amendment, to empower employees in their conversations with customers, the complaint says.

“The bikini is an invitation to discuss. It makes the customers more open to be themselves because they see us as individuals. They see us as open and expressive in our bikinis and they feel they can open up,” lawyers quoted a barista saying.

The bikini baristas say the city is oversexualizing their profession. Wearing more clothing could cause them to forfeit a significant portion of their income, they allege.

City officials Monday declined to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks damages of an undisclosed amount.

rking@heraldnet.com

The story first appeared in the Everett Herald.

More in News & Comment

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. Photo courtesy King County
King County Could Ban Solitary Confinement for Youth in Detention

Last week, a lawsuit was filed over the practice; this week, King County scrambled to respond.

Welcome to the Bliss Jungle

A party house in Shoreline served as a home base for a community of hippies. It was also, according to multiple alleged victims, the scene of numerous rapes.

As promised, a decision was delivered before the Thanksgiving holiday.
King County Judge Rules Against Seattle Income Tax

The judgment sets up an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Mayor Signs Retirement Savings Plan Into Law

Along with signing the City budget, the mayor also put into motion the nation’s first city-faciliated, privately-administered retirement savings plan.

Bow Hunting in Bellevue, Church Threats, and Much Ado About Mulch

Plus, a former high school office staffer charged with rape.

City Budget Includes Funding for Georgetown-South Park Trail

Tired of feeling like islands, South Park and Georgetown residents pushed the city for greater connectivity between the communities.

Increased Caseloads Plague King County’s Mental Health Court

The Involuntary Treatment Act Court has seen its cases double in the last decade and the staff can’t keep up.

Seattle Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland speaks about a new agreement between the city and Seattle Public Schools at a Monday press conference. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Former Army Base Could Address School District’s ‘Capacity Crisis’

The city and Seattle Public Schools entered into an agreement on Monday to plan for new schools and Fort Lawton’s future.

Is the State Transportation Commission Irrelevant?

A report says the citizen panel often is ignored, and its duties overlap with the Transportation Department.

Most Read