Bikinis Stay For Now As Court Orders City Of Everett And Bikini Barista Owners To Meet Over Ordinance

October 24, 2022

Everett Government

Bikini drawing

The dress code has never been enforced.

Back in 2017 the City of Everett passed an ordinance that basically removed the bikini from the bikini-coffee-stand business model and outlined a strict dress code for employees of “Quick Service Facilities including Barista Stands” The ordinance passed unanimously and was challenged. There have been multiple court actions since that time and the city has held off enforcing the ordinance. Last week United States District Judge Ricardo Martinez ruled one part of the ordinance violates the 14th Amendment saying in part.

The Court is particularly swayed by Dr. Roberts’ observations that this Ordinance poses an unreasonable risk of demeaning enforcement. Assuming the owners of bikini barista stands are unable or unwilling to enforce this dress code, at some point law enforcement will be asked to measure exposure of skin by some method. This “encourage[s] a humiliating, intrusive, and demoralizing search on women, disempowering them and stripping them of their freedom.”
The Court finds that, although this Ordinance satisfies the lower standard set forth by the Ninth Circuit under the First Amendment, it does not satisfy the heightened standard under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This Ordinance clearly treats women differently than men by banning a wide variety of women’s clothing, not just pasties and G-strings, or bikinis. The restrictions are so detailed they effectively prescribe the clothes to be worn by women in quick service facilities. In sum, the City has failed to demonstrate how this disparate treatment of women is substantially related to the achievement of the Ordinance’s stated objectives. Summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs is warranted on this claim.

However the Judge did rule in favor of the City of Everett being able to establish a dress code of some type as it did not completely prohibit serving coffee from the stands, saying in part.

The Court agrees. Under the undisputed facts, Plaintiffs have failed to show that these Ordinances are so irrational as to be arbitrary. These laws are clearly related, thinly at times, to the City’s identified harms of crime prevention and the upholding of the community’s sensibilities. While the Court agrees that the Dress Code Ordinance’s language as to which body parts must be covered and by how many inches is excessive, such specifics are left to legislators under applicable case law and in any event the rational basis standard does not require that the City “choose the best means of advancing its goals;” all that is needed is some “rational connection” between the rule and the governmental interest, regardless of whether that rule is an “exact fit” for the interest at issue. United States v. Navarro, 800 F.3d 1104, 1114 (9th Cir. 2015) (citing Vermouth v. Corrothers, 827 F.2d 599, 603 (9th Cir. 1987); Mauro v. Arpaio, 188 F.3d 1054, 1059-60 (9th Cir. 1999)). The Ordinances do not infringe on Plaintiffs’ right to engage in the occupation of serving coffee, and Plaintiffs have failed to convince the Court that their occupation should be construed more narrowly for purposes of this constitutional analysis. This claim is properly dismissed.

Judge Martinez ordered the following.

Having reviewed the relevant briefing and the remainder of the record, the Court hereby finds and ORDERS:

1) Defendant City of Everett’s Motion for Summary Judgment, is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. All of Plaintiffs’ claims are DISMISSED except for Plaintiffs’ claims that the Dress Code Ordinance violates the Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. and Washington State Constitutions.

2) Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment, Dkt. #76, is GRANTED as to Plaintiffs’ claims that the Dress Code Ordinance violates the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment.

3) The Court DIRECTS the parties to meet and confer within 14 days of this Order regarding how to proceed, including the submission of an additional proposed order
if necessary.

Here is the complete ruling issued by Judge Martinez last Wednesday.

Edge vs. City of Everett Motions

For now the baristas can still serve in their bikinis.

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