Judge sides with bikini baristas, grants injunction

KOMO file photo

SEATTLE (KOMO) -- A federal judge has ruled in favor of a group of bikini baristas in Everett, issuing a preliminary injunction against the city's rules and dress code for the workers.

U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman wrote that the city's rules "are likely void for vagueness under the 14th Amendment and that they "fail to provide clear guidance and raise risks of arbitrary enforcement." The judge also says that the dress code -- an attempt by the city to get baristas to wear at least a tank top and shorts - likely violates the baristas' right of free expression under the First Amendment.

The baristas' lawyer argued in court last month that the city shouldn't be able to regulate clothing and that there was a "art form" to being a bikini barista.

The city argued the rules would reduce criminal conduct, including prostitution, at the stands.

Pechman said in her order that it isn't her responsibility to comment on taste or decorum but whether the "choice of clothing is communicative."

"The court concludes that it is. While some customers view the bikinis as 'sexualized,' to others they convey particularized values, beliefs, ideas and opinions; namely, body confidence and freedom of choice. Moreover, in certain scenarios, bikinis can convey the very type of political speech that lies at the core of the First Amendment. "

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, The Associated Press reported.

The city of Everett said it is evaluating the ruling.

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