City of Everett pays $500K settlement over bikini barista ordinance

Apr 7, 2023, 10:50 AM | Updated: 11:50 am

bikini barista...

(File, Associated Press)

(File, Associated Press)

The City of Everett is paying out $500,000 to a former bikini barista stand owner and its employees after a U.S. district court ruled that a 2017 city ordinance unfairly targeted women.

The owner of a chain of coffee stands called Hillbilly Hotties sued the city, claiming its dress code infringed on their First Amendment rights–and a U.S. District Court judge agreed.

A return to bikini-clad baristas in Everett, judge rules

The city argued that the ordinance was passed to prevent the “proliferation of crimes of a sexual nature occurring at bikini barista stands throughout the city.”

A U.S. District Court judge found Everett’s dress code ordinance violated the Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. and Washington state constitutions. The Court found that the ordinance was, at least in part, shaped by a gender-based discriminatory purpose.

It is difficult to imagine, the court wrote, how the ordinance would be equally applied to men and women in practice because it prohibits clothing “typically worn by women rather than men,” including midriff and scoop-back shirts, as well as bikinis.

Bikini baristas were “clearly” a target of the ordinance, the court also ruled, adding that the profession is comprised of a workforce that is almost entirely women.

Everett has now agreed to align its dress code with existing standards, meaning bikini baristas will no longer be required to wear a tank top and shorts.

Under the agreement, stand owners will be required to post information to employees on how to seek help if they are being trafficked or exploited.

The Everett City Council unanimously approved a $500,000 settlement Thursday. Bikini barista stands will still be allowed to operate under probationary licenses, which will allow the city to crack down on stands if they exhibit evidence of lewd behavior.

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City of Everett pays $500K settlement over bikini barista ordinance