City to Pay $500,000 to Reconcile Bikini Barista Dress Code

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — A legal battle over a dress code for bikini-clad baristas at coffee stands is ending after a city north of Seattle agreed to pay $500,000 to the owner and employees who sued them six years ago.

The Everett City Council voted unanimously this week to allow Mayor Kasey Franklin to sign a settlement agreement with Giovanna Edge and her staff, The Daily Herald reports. reported.

The plaintiffs sought more than $3 million in damages and attorneys’ fees.

Under the agreement, the city will maintain most of the rules for licensing pilot coffee stands and other quick-service businesses, but will not allow baristas to wear at least tank tops and shorts.

Instead, the city is aligning dress code rules with current standards of lewd conduct, making it a crime to publicly expose too much of one’s private parts. Another provision requires business owners to post materials to employees with information on how to seek help if they have been trafficked or otherwise exploited.

“I’m glad we’re on the side of the baristas and the people who are trying to make them do something they don’t want to do,” City Councilwoman Liz Vogeli said after the vote.

In the year It could end a saga that began in 2009 when the city said it received complaints that some stands were selling pornographic displays and sex acts and allowing customers to physically touch baristas. Four people were arrested and charged.

In the year In 2013, two espresso stand owners were charged with prostitution and exploitation of minors, as well as a Snohomish County sheriff’s sergeant who allegedly tipped off undercover officers to baristas in exchange for sex. The sergeant resigned and the owners were convicted.

The city In 2017, it created a dress code requiring employees, owners and operators of “quick service establishments” from coffee stands to fast food restaurants to wear clothing that covers the upper and lower body and face fines.

Edge, owner of Everett Bikini Barista Hillbilly Hotties, and employees Natalie Bjerk, Matheson Hernandez, Leah Humphrey, Amelia Powell and Liberty Ziska filed a legal complaint alleging the law violates their First Amendment rights.

“Some countries make you wear a lot of clothes because of their religion,” Hernandez wrote. “But America is different because you can wear what you want to wear. I wear what I’m comfortable with and everyone else can wear what’s comfortable.”

The case has seen various decisions in the courts, but in October a US District Court judge upheld Dress code unconstitutional.

Ramerman told the council the city will appeal, but a loss would lead to a much higher tab than $500,000. The city spent nearly $400,000 defending the ordinance.

“It still gives us our best tool to make sure that the employees of the permanent owners are not involved in illegal activities,” the city attorney said.

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