Federal judge sides with bikini baristas, rules dress code is unconstitutional

The judge found that the ordinance was shaped at least in part by gender discrimination.

Updated: October 30, 2022 - 3:33pm

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A federal judge ruled a Washington city's dress code ordinance is unconstitutional, siding with bikini baristas in a lengthy legal battle.

For years, the city of Everett, Washington, has been battling with bikini baristas over an ordinance stating that employees must cover their bodies at work, the Everett Herald reported last week. Several individual baristas and Schuyler Lifschultz, the co-owner of Hillbilly Hotties, filed the original lawsuit against the city over the ordinance.

Everett enacted the ordinance in 2017 requiring all employees, operators and owners of "quick service facilities," such as coffee stands and fast food restaurants, to wear outfits that cover their "upper and lower body."

U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez dismissed the plaintiffs' challenge to the city's lewd conduct ordinance and their argument that the dress code violated their First Amendment rights. However, the judge ruled that the code violated the state and U.S. constitutions' Equal Protection clauses.

The judge found that the ordinance was shaped at least in part by gender discrimination as it only "prohibits clothing typically worn by women rather than men."