Federal Appeals Court Rules on Bikini Baristas


Editorial Policy

Published on

Last updated on

[L]ast week, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that blocked the city of Everett, Washington, from enforcing a certain dress code at “bikini barista” businesses.

After years of complaints from residents, as well as evidence of illegal behavior at various coffee stands, the city’s government passed two ordinances in 2017: one that prohibited “quick-service facility” workers from wearing bikinis and other revealing clothing, and another expanding the definition of “lewd” conduct to include public displays of specific body parts. That year, the owner of local coffee stand chain Hillbilly Hotties, along with several baristas, sued the city to block the dress code, and U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman ruled in favor of the coffee chain, saying that the ordinances were too vague and violated First Amendment rights and imposing an injunction.

On July 3, Judges Morgan Christen, Sandra Ikuta, and Jennifer Choe-Groves unanimously overturned the injunction, ruling that the ordinances were not unconstitutionally vague and did not violate free speech.

“We stress that plaintiffs deny that they engage in nude dancing and erotic performances, thereby disavowing the First Amendment protections available for that conduct,” wrote Christen.

Following the decision, Hillbilly Hotties owner Jovanna Edge has said she will appeal and continue to battle the ordinances.

“The baristas are seeking to exercise their right to choose their work clothing,” says an attorney on behalf of the business. “The baristas sought to express positive messages of body confidence and female empowerment. This decision effectively tells women that the female body must be covered up and hidden, and that women must be protected from themselves.”

Share This Article

Fresh Cup Staff

Join 7,000+ coffee pros and get top stories, deals, and other industry goodies in your inbox each week.

Other Articles You May Like

Wage Transparency Is Possible In Your Cafe: Here’s How

What are the benefits of pay transparency, and how can cafés implement transparent pay structures without added expense or conflict? Experts from pay-transparent cafés have the answers, and they are eager to spread the…
by RJ Joseph | February 7, 2023

How To Develop A Café Menu

Building your menu with with your customers and staff in mind sets the foundation for a successful café.
by Ellie Bradley | January 26, 2023

Heavy Rotation: On Picking Music For The Café

For many café owners, music tracks are that continuous backbeat under a busy coffee business, a statement of the space, and an exclamation of the people working there. More than just a mood setter,…
by Peter Agostinelli | January 10, 2023

Is It Time to Raise Your Prices?

Coffee shops face a challenge: should they absorb the rising cost of goods or pass along costs to the customer? Here’s how business owners decide when to increase menu prices.
by Haley Greene | January 4, 2023