Bikini Baristas Sue City for Bare-Skin Ban: ‘It’s About Women’s Rights’

September 11, 2017, 7:58 PM UTC

A group of “bikini baristas” filed a lawsuit on Monday against a city in Washington State alleging that two recently passed ordinances banning bikinis and bare skin among restaurant employees violates their constitutional rights.

The baristas, so named because they wear beachwear or underwear while serving beverages to consumers, are a controversial fixture of the metropolitan Seattle area. Establishments such as “Peek-A-Brew Espresso,” “Knotty Bodies Espresso,” and “Natte Latte” have popped up in the area, vying for the attention of customers looking for, well, a bit more of a jolt from their daily cuppa.

The group filed their lawsuit against the city of Everett, which recently passed ordinances banning bare shoulders, bare midriffs, and bare buttocks among restaurant employees. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, argues that such bans violate employees’ constitutional rights to free expression and privacy.

“This is not about the bikini,” attorney Schuyler Lifschultz told the Seattle Times.It’s about women’s rights and the U.S. Constitution. The City of Everett violated these women’s rights across the board.”

The ordinances passed unanimously by the City Council in August in response to criticisms that the businesses were no more than dressed-up strip clubs. They require employees of “quick service” food and beverage businesses to cover “minimum body areas” while on duty, including the breasts, torso, and top three inches of legs below the buttocks. The ordinances went into effect Sept. 5.

The plaintiffs—seven baristas and one chain owner—argue that their right to privacy would be violated if officials inspected them to ensure compliance with the rules. They also argue that the ordinances discriminate against women.