Baristas in Everett are getting a new dress code.
The City Council on Wednesday night voted unanimously to approve a proposal drawn up by staff. New ordinances generally go into effect 15 days after being signed by the mayor.
Stand owners say they are considering legal action in federal court on civil rights grounds.
The dress code requires employees at “quick service” restaurants—think fast food, food trucks and coffee stands—to wear a minimum of tank tops and shorts. The language is aimed at bikini baristas, whose outfits often consist of body paint, stickers and g-strings.
A second piece of legislation, also approved 7-0, expands the definition of lewd conduct citywide. The traditional definition covers sexual activity or nudity in public places. The new wording clarifies what areas of skin can be exposed, on top and bottom.
In addition, it creates a new misdemeanor on the books, called “facilitating lewd conduct.” A business owner could face jail time and a $5,000 fine for allowing or encouraging lewd conduct.
According to the city, together the new rules are supposed to make it easier to bring civil sanctions at stands where baristas engage in prostitution or flash body parts for cash. In past years, investigators found Everett bikini businesses that were operating as drive-thru brothels, leading to felony convictions, asset seizures and the eventual destruction of some stands.
Owners whose employees are found in violation of the dress code would have to pay a $250 fine and obtain a probationary license to keep operating that stand. Additional violations would bring fines and potential loss of the license.
Some bikini stand owners, including Schuyler Lifschultz of Hillbilly Hotties, say the legislation violates their civil rights, along with those of their employees. He and about a dozen people spoke in opposition at the council meeting. He is not planning to make changes at his business at this point.
“We are confident this will be overturned due to the gross civil rights violations,” he said.
Lifschultz says the new rules could subject baristas to having their buttocks measured by officials, and may invite ogling.
“You are literally requiring females to be stared at and prodded in order to keep their job!” he wrote in an email summarizing his opposition.
This story originally appeared in the Everett Herald.