Scantily clad baristas in one city in Washington state will have to cover up when serving customers -- thanks to a U.S. appeals court ruling.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week overturned a lower court judge's decision to block the city of Everett from imposing a dress-code on so-called “bikini baristas.”
Everett imposed a dress code and “lewd conduct law” in August 2017 to combat “dangerous and unlawful conduct” that workers at bikini barista stands supposedly face, Reuters reported.
Seven baristas and the owner of "Hillbilly Hotties" – a chain of drive-up coffee stands – sued to block the dress code on the grounds that it violated free speech, Seattle-Tacoma's KOMO-TV reported.
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle agreed with them and the dress code was temporarily suspended while the issue made its way through the courts.
But the three-judge appeals panel on Wednesday overturned Pechman's order, saying that skimpy attire – sometimes just pasties and a G-string – to sell espresso at drive-through coffee stands does not constitute free speech protected by the First Amendment.
“Context is everything,” Circuit Judge Morgan Christen wrote in Wednesday’s decision. “The baristas’ act of wearing pasties and G-strings in close proximity to paying customers creates a high likelihood that the message sent by the baristas’ nearly nonexistent outfits vastly diverges from those described in plaintiffs’ declarations.”
Bikini barista stands have been a common sight in Everett for about 10 years, Reuters reported. The city of about 111,000 residents is about 28 miles north of Seattle.
Everett wants to require such workers to at minimum dress in tank tops and shorts while on the job, Seattle's KIRO-TV reported. Hillbilly Hotties owner Jovanna Edge said she will appeal the decision.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.