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Bikini baristas continuing legal fight against Everett dress code

(AP file photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

After a recent ruling by the Court of Appeals siding with the City of Everett against bikini baristas, the workers are now looking for a rehearing at appeals court, and potentially taking the case to the Supreme Court.

In July, the Court of Appeals upheld a city Dress Code Ordinance which stipulated that the baristas must wear at least a tank top and shorts on the job. Previously, the baristas sued the city arguing that the ordinance was a violation of their First Amendment rights.

“This has been going on for 10 years now, it started in 2009. My guess is that most of the people that were there in 2009 have aged out,” joked KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney.

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“Baristas are arguing that it’s free speech, that their appearance is a form of speech. But the appeals court held that if the baristas intended message was about empowerment and confidence that message was unlikely to be understood by those who view them, which I thought was pretty clever. They also accepted the idea that they were secondary effects, criminal aspects associate with the stands.”

Despite that, the baristas are asking for a rehearing in the appeals court with a larger panel of judges, and will ask the Supreme Court to hear it if denied. Their lawyer told the Everett Herald that while getting either of the hearings is very difficult, they may have a chance because the decision conflicts with a previous federal court decision. In 2017, a U.S. District court judge ruled against the ordinance on the basis that the lawsuit had to first be resolved.

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According to co-host John Curley, this type of business doesn’t exist only in the U.S.

“They have it in Chile. Literally it means coffee with legs. And then in Queenstown, they’ve got bikini-clad meter maids dressed in all in gold and very, very tight little bikinis. They go around and they feed the meters money,” he said. “The meter maids do it because it’s also a tourist attraction to keep the tourists happy so they don’t get parking tickets. There’s a whole bunch of different examples of other places that have no problem with a woman’s body.”

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“So Everett should see this as a way to bring in tourists?” Tom joked. “Clearly you have a strong opinion about this. Nobody likes to take his shirt off faster than John.”

“Only in an emergency,” Curley added.

Listen to the Tom and Curley Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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