Bikini Baristas Sue Over New Dress Code Ordinance

The city of Everett is clamping down on the bikini barista stands with a new dress code. The law is now prompting a federal lawsuit.

A group of bikini baristas have sued the city of Everett in federal court, alleging violations of their their rights to free expression and privacy.

The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, claims the city's new dress code not only violates workers' rights to free speech, but discriminates against women since it essentially deprives them of work exclusively for females.  

Appropriately enough, Amelia Powell chose the "naughty cop" costume when she dressed for work Monday at Everett's Hillbilly Hotties bikini barista stand.

"It's called 'criminally sexy,'" she laughed.

Powell is one of seven co-workers who filed suit against the city over a dress code that went into effect last week. It bans the exposure of midriffs, shoulders, breasts and butts at the stands. It also gives strict measurements as to how much skin can be shown.

"We're just trying to make our money and do what we love to do." Powell said. "We're not hurting anyone. We're not breaking any laws." 

Other bikini barista stands have broken the law, however, promoting prostitution and indecent exposure.

City officials hope the dress code will help head off any further problems.

Despite her outfit, Powell admitted she's no expert on the law, but said she does know her rights. 

"Ultimately, it's unconstitutional," Powell said. "It's a violation of our rights to be able to choose to work how and where we please."

Neither Everett's police chief, mayor nor city attorney would comment on this story.

Previously, an assistant city attorney went on the record saying the ordinance isn't about women wearing bikinis, but eliminating the crime at some bikini barista stands.

For now, Powell is doing her best to keep in compliance. 

"This costume is three inches past my butt. My shoulders are covered. My chest is covered," she said.

Powell worries about violations of her personal privacy if police are asked to measure how plunging her neckline is or how short her skirt is.

She's also worried about her livelihood.

Business was slow at the Hillbilly Hotties stand Monday raising the question as to whether customers will still show up to see the more modest outfits.

"Less customers equals less tips," Powell said. "I don't really want to think about that."

The ordinance requires workers to wear a minimum of tank tops and shorts. It specifically requires employees at "quick service" restaurants, which also include fast food and food trucks, to adhere to the dress code.

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