SEATTLE (AP) — The city of Everett, Washington, has agreed not to enforce its ban on bikini baristas while it’s challenged in court.
Seven bikini baristas and the owner of a chain of the coffee stands called “Hillbilly Hotties” sued the city this week, saying two recently passed ordinances banning bare skin violate their right to free expression.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, says the ordinances passed by the Everett City Council deny bikini-stand employees the ability to communicate through their attire, are vague and confusing, and unlawfully target women.
The city cited “a proliferation of crimes of a sexual nature occurring at bikini barista stands throughout the city” in adopting the measures.
In a stipulation entered in court Friday, the city said it would not enforce the ban while a judge considers whether to grant a preliminary injunction blocking the law. Briefing on the issue is due to be completed in November, with a ruling sometime thereafter.
“The City has agreed to suspend enforcement of the new ordinances for several weeks, at which time the challenge will be decided on the merits without the unnecessary intermediary step of litigating a temporary restraining order,” Everett spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said in an email. “We are confident that the City will prevail and the ordinances will be upheld.”
One of Everett’s new laws requires the workers to wear a minimum of tank tops and shorts. It specifically applies to employees at “quick service” restaurants, which also include fast food and food trucks.
The other redefined the city’s lewd conduct ordinance and created a new crime of facilitating lewd conduct. Both ordinances took effect early this month.
Everett and Snohomish County, where it’s located north of Seattle, have had a troubled history with the shops, which in some cases have operated as drive-thru strip clubs or even brothels. A former Snohomish County sheriff’s sergeant pleaded guilty to helping launder money from a prostitution operation run out of some of roadside stands and was sentenced to one year in jail.
Jovanna Edge, the proprietor of the “Hillbilly Hotties” stands, called the new laws unnecessary. She said she allows the police department to log into her surveillance camera system so officers can watch what’s happening at her stands in real time to ensure there is no impropriety.