Baristas sue Seattle suburb over discriminatory ordinance
Everett, Wash. — A group of baristas are filing a lawsuit against this Seattle suburb after it passed an ordinance designed to discriminate against women and force the baristas to the unemployment line.
Everett recently passed one of the most anti-woman, anti-business measures the Seattle area has ever seen when they adopted an ordinance requiring any article of clothing they wear to be a minimum of three inches below the ass.
The city claimed that their lewd conduct ordinance was insufficient and thus, this new ordinance was necessary.
The baristas are now claiming that their First, Fifth and Fourteenth amendment rights of the US Constitution were violated due to the ordinance, which took effect on August 16. That ordinance would subject all of the NFL’s 26 cheerleading squads and all of the NBA and WNBA dancers – including the Seattle SeaGals, the Los Angeles Laker Girls, and the world famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – to a fine of $5,000.00 and a one year jail term for a first offense, and a possible trip to the sex offender registry for a felony conviction (which is a third or subsequent offense).
Here’s the statement put forth by the baristas’ attorney:
Everett City Council members voted to enact two ordinances August 16th dictating a dress code banning bare midriffs, exposed shoulders, shorts or bikinis in quick serve restaurants. The Dress-Code Ordinance effectively abolishes all bikini-barista stands in Everett with the implementation of the dress code putting many women out of work, including the plaintiff’s Baristas.
A group of affected baristas filed a lawsuit against the City alleging that both recently passed ordinances are unconstitutional under the 1st and 14th amendments. In the complaint filed today in Federal Court Plaintiffs allege the City of Everett violated Equal protection, discriminated, is a violation of protected freedom of speech and did not provide due process.
The Ordinances, on their face violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; are unconstitutionally vague, as applied and in violation of the due process guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment. The ordinances also deprive the Baristas of their Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and discriminate against women.
Derek Newman, counsel for the affected baristas said, “The City knows only women work as bikini baristas, and intentionally targeted women through the Ordinances.”
Barista Natalie Bjerk says, “This is about Women’s rights, the city council should not tell me what I can and cannot wear when I go to work, it’s a violation of my first amendment rights.”
Plaintiff Liberty Ziska will testify that wearing a bikini while serving coffee communicates. “I choose my own clothing at work, and for me, the message I send is freedom…Millions of women fought for our rights and right to vote, and it’s my right to wear what I want. It’s my right as a person.” There is nothing unhealthy, obscene, or contrary to the public good in the barista’s garments.
Plaintiff Leah Humphrey was quoted “These ordinances set back women’s rights by fifty years.”
The City claims that the Ordinances are designed to ward off crime, prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and the corruption of minors, and to minimize the adverse impacts upon aesthetics and property values of surrounding neighborhoods and businesses. The City’s legislative record does not support that these conditions exist as a result of the stands much less that a dress code Ordinance will meet these goals.
Everett has failed to satisfy a public records request seeking evidence relating to data showing bikini barista stands engendering a criminal atmosphere. The City of Everett cannot furnish any evidence linking bikini barista businesses and secondary criminal acts such as illicit drug use, or that they endanger public health and lower property values. The City is seeking to blame an innocent enterprise for municipality’s rampant drug problem.
Just like Starbucks with green aprons, UPS with brown trucks and shorts, Hooter’s with minimal orange, athletic shorts, the Baristas’ attire is a brand at work. They simply wear a bikini while serving coffee. The SeaGals attire consists of very short shorts, pushup bras, and bare midriffs that would be illegal under the ordinances yet they perform in front of 60,000 plus people every game day and at numerous charity events. Our Baristas deserve the same rights.
There are very valid claims made on the plaintiffs’ side. But, let’s get to the claim that judges will likely throw out.
The First Amendment claim is faulty at best, since clothing is not protected under the US Constitution and municipalities as well as state governments, have extremely wide latitudes to restrict what kinds of clothing would be acceptable. They even have authority to outlaw clothing in their jurisdictions (although that would not be practical outside of Florida and Hawaii due to the fact that portions of all other states get chilly during the winter). So, the First Amendment claim is likely to be dismissed and ruled in favor of Everett.
The other two claims are very sound in favor of the plaintiffs. The Fifth Amendment claim is a valid claim as plaintiffs have a right against self-incrimination. The biggest charge the plaintiffs filed is predicated on the Fourteenth Amendment. Since this ordinance does not apply to Chippendale dancers or Male Review entertainers, there’s a very valid claim that the gender of the entertainers played a major role in formation of the ordinance.
There are two other very sound claims in the plaintiffs’ favor that the plaintiffs themselves did not file in the lawsuit. The first is the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits such invasive actions that are required by the ordinance. Then, there is Washington’s Constitution, which has an Equal Rights Amendment in tow. Text of that amendment says:
SECTION 1 EQUALITY NOT DENIED BECAUSE OF SEX. Equality of rights and responsibility under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex.
So, there are many avenues for judges to strike down this unconstitutional ordinance. Question is: will they follow the Constitutions of the US and Washington? Or will the judges appeal to feelings and morals and legislate baristas out of work and existence?