How much “anal cleft” is one allow to show while at work? That’s the question one Washington court is trying to answer.
A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing an ongoing legal saga between bikini baristas and the city of Everett over the anatomical phrase “anal cleft” and whether dress codes imposed on businesses violate their civil rights.
Both sides appeared in court Monday to further argue the city’s ordinance, which was passed August 2017, that restricts what employees of “quick-service” restaurants wear by requiring that the “bottom one-half of the anal cleft” be covered, Herald Net reported.
According to the ordinance, employees who work at fast food restaurants, food trucks and coffee stands are required to wear at least a tank top and shorts while at work.
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman approved the injunction during litigation, ruling the ordinance likely violates the bikini baristas’ First and 14th Amendment rights.
“The term ‘bottom one-half of the anal cleft’ is not well-defined or reasonably understandable, and the ordinances otherwise fail to provide clear guidance and raise risks of arbitrary enforcement. The court finds that the dress code ordinance likely violates plaintiffs’ right to free expression under the First Amendment,” Pechman wrote in the injunction order, Courthouse News reported.
Jovanna Edge, owner of Hillbilly Hotties, one of several bikini barista coffee shops involved in the suit, and attorney Melinda Ebelhar argued that the order was intentionally vague and would be too difficult to enforce.
Ebelhar claimed it would take “advanced math” to figure out whether the bottom half of the anal cleft was exposed.
U.S. Circuit Judge Morgan Christen seemed to agree, asking, “How can law enforcement determine where the bottom half is and measure it?” Courthouse News reported.
Assistant city attorney Ramsey Ramerman disagreed with the questioning, saying that the legislation was specifically worded and argued that Edge understood what the new dress code law allowed.
Ramerman argued it was the city’s responsibility to combat prostitution or illegal sexual activity – messages he claimed the bikini barista coffee stand was sending.
Judge Sandra Ikuta agreed, stating she was concerned customers would see the women working as saying: “I am sexually available,” the Herald Net reported.
According to the publication, Ebelhar defended the baristas' choice of outfits as personal expression, female empowerment and a form of body positivity.
“The message they are sending is this is not your mother’s coffee stand,” she said.
A final ruling has not yet been reported.