Bikini baristas sue Everett, say bare-skin ban violates their freedom of expression

The city’s new ordinances effectively ban bikini baristas, but attorneys for the plantiffs say fighting the law is not about coffee or bikinis. “It’s about women’s rights and the U.S. Constitution. The City of Everett violated these women’s rights across the board,” said one attorney.

A group of bikini baristas filed a lawsuit Monday against the city of Everett, alleging that two recently passed ordinances banning bikinis and bare skin — including bare shoulders, bare midriffs and bare buttocks — on restaurant employees, violate their constitutional rights to free expression and the right to privacy.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, claims that the ordinances, which were passed unanimously by the City Council last month, deny bikini-stand employees the ability to communicate and express themselves through their choice of swimwear, infringe on their right to privacy and deny them due process.

“This is not about the bikini,” said attorney Schuyler Lifschultz, “It’s about women’s rights and the U.S. Constitution. The City of Everett violated these women’s rights across the board.”

The suit asks the federal court to declare unconstitutional the ordinances which went into effect on Sept. 5.

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Spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said the city would not be commenting on the lawsuit at this time.

The plaintiffs, including seven baristas and an owner of a chain of bikini coffee stands, argue in the suit that their right to privacy would be violated if officers were to inspect them to ensure that they were following the rules.

“The Ordinances, on their face violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; are unconstitutionally vague, as applied and in violation of the due process guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment. The ordinances also deprive the Baristas of their Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and discriminate against women,” lawyers for the baristas said in a statement released Monday.

“The city knows only women work as bikini baristas, and intentionally targeted women through the ordinances,” said Derek Newman, one of the attorneys for the baristas.

Barista Natalie Bjerk says, “This is about women’s rights. The city council should not tell me what I can and cannot wear when I go to work, it’s a violation of my First Amendment rights.”

The plaintiffs claim that wearing…

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