EVERETT, Wash. - Everett’s dress code ordinance saying bikini baristas must cover their bodies at work has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.
The decision in a partial summary judgment this week comes after a lengthy legal battle between bikini baristas and the city of Everett over the rights of workers to wear what they want, the Everett Herald reported.
Jovanna Edge, owner of XO Espresso off US-2 and several others stands across Everett says they were targeted.
She took action, filing a lawsuit against the city arguing discrimination.
"I’m a firm believer in standing up for your constitutional rights; I completely felt this was wrong, and I completely felt it targeted women," Edge said.
Five years later, the courts agreed.
U.S. District Court in Seattle found Everett’s dress code ordinance violated the Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. and Washington state constitutions. The Court found that the ordinance was, at least in part, shaped by a gender-based discriminatory purpose, according to a 19-page ruling signed by U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez.
"I found it unacceptable and unconstitutional because there's nothing wrong with what the baristas are wearing—they can wear wherever they want, it's a bikini stand," said customer Alexander Hubbard.
It is difficult to imagine, the court wrote, how the ordinance would be equally applied to men and women in practice because it prohibits clothing "typically worn by women rather than men," including midriff and scoop-back shirts, as well as bikinis.
Bikini baristas were "clearly" a target of the ordinance, the court also ruled, adding that the profession is comprised of a workforce that is almost entirely women.
"Don't judge a book by its cover, just because of the girls who are doing this job, doesn't mean we're bad people," said Ivy, a bikini barista. "We all have lives outside of this; some of us are mothers, some of us go to college besides this, we're all just working and hustling like everybody else."
Jovanna, has spent one $1.8 million in legal fees.
FOX 13 News reached out to the City of Everett to inquire who will be responsible for the costs and if they’re planning on appealing the court’s decision, but we have not heard back yet.
"If they do, what am I going to do about it? Fight again," Edge said. "Our attorneys are in for the long haul."
In 2017, the city enacted its dress code ordinance, requiring all employees, owners and operators of "quick service facilities" to wear clothing that covers the upper and lower body. The ordinance listed coffee stands, fast food restaurants, delis, food trucks and coffee shops as examples of quick service businesses.
The owner of Everett bikini barista stand Hillbilly Hotties and some employees filed a legal complaint challenging the constitutionality of the dress code ordinance. They also challenged the city’s lewd conduct ordinance, but the court dismissed all the baristas’ claims but the dress code question.
The court directed the city of Everett to meet with the plaintiffs within 14 days to discuss next steps.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.