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“Bikini Baristas” Ordered to Cover-Up

The 9th Circuit court of appeals has enforced the City of Everett, Washington’s Dress Code Ordinance and amendments to the Lewd Conduct Ordinances. These ordinances require employees of “Quick-Service” facilities to cover “minimum body areas” (the dress code ordinance specifically stated that it was targeting an apparent influx of “bikini barista stands”). The owner of “Hillbilly Hotties,” a coffee stand where employees wear only bikinis, and several of the bikini baristas themselves challenged the ordinances as unconstitutionally vague. Plaintiffs also alleged that the Ordinances violated their First Amendment right to free expression.

The Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling that prohibited enforcement of the Ordinances on the ground that they are unconstitutionally vague. The appeals court explained that a person of ordinary intelligence would be able to understand the terms in the Ordinance and would be adequately informed of which body areas cannot be exposed or displayed.

The Ninth Circuit also concluded that Plaintiffs’ first amendment claim faltered based upon their failure to show a great likelihood that their intended message would be understood by those who received it. The court found that the baristas’ acts of wearing pasties and g-strings in close proximity to customers did not necessarily convey the baristas’ purported message of female body confidence and empowerment.

Read the full decision here.

© 2020 Proskauer Rose LLP. National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 193


About this Author

Anthony J Oncidi, Employment Attorney, Proskauer Rose Law Firm

Anthony J. Oncidi heads the Labor & Employment Law Group in the Los Angeles office. Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection....

Cole Lewis Employment Attorney

Cole Lewis is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department.

Cole graduated from UCLA School of Law, where he worked as a law clerk for Public Counsel of Los Angeles and advocated for benefit recipients in the Department of Public Social Services. He has also previously worked as a summer associate in Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Department.

Prior to law school, Cole received his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism at Indiana University, where he graduated cum laude.