Judge: Everett’s bikini baristas don’t have to cover up – at least for now

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled an ordinance that attempted to impose a dress code on the baristas was likely vague and violates 14th Amendment equal-protection guarantees since it particularly targeted women. She also found the ordinances likely violate First Amendment protections of freedom of expression.

A federal judge has extended an injunction that prevents the City of Everett from enforcing two laws aimed at curbing so-called “bikini barista” coffee stands, saying the ordinances are likely unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, in a 13-page order issued Monday afternoon, said an ordinance that attempted to impose a dress code was likely vague and violated  14th Amendment equal-protection guarantees because  it particularly targeted women. More significantly, perhaps, is that the Pechman found the ordinances likely violate First Amendment protections of freedom of expression.

“Without a preliminary injunction, Plaintiffs will be deprived of their constitutional rights,” Pechman wrote.

“On the other hand, the City will face no serious injustice if the injunction issues,” she said, pointing out that the city has been dealing with the issue for nearly a decade. “The court sees no reason why it cannot continue to do so pending resolution of this action on the merits.”

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The injunction means the coffee stands can continue to operate while a lawsuit filed by the baristas and their bosses against the city continues.

The plaintiffs, including seven baristas and an owner of a chain of bikini coffee stands, filed the lawsuit over the two ordinances that were unanimously passed in August — one tightening city regulations proscribing lewd behavior, and the other banning bikinis and requiring additional clothing to cover breasts, shoulders, midriffs and buttocks.

The city agreed to a moratorium on enforcing the ordinances pending Monday’s ruling by Pechman.

Attorneys representing the baristas argued in court last month that serving coffee in a bikini is protected by the First Amendment and that the city’s dress-code ordinance is not only vague but also violates equal protection because it applies only to women.

The city’s attorneys countered that the messages the baristas purport to express — female empowerment, individuality and fierce…

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