US City to Pay $500,000 Fine in Bikini Barista Dress Code Case

In this Feb. 2, 2010, file photo, a barista at a Grab-N-Go Bikini Hut espresso stand holds money as she waves to a customer, just outside the city limits of Everett, Wash., in Snohomish County. InternationalIndiaAfricaThe city council of Everett, located in the north of Seattle, has agreed to pay $500,000 to business owner Jovanna Edge and her employees at Hillbilly Hotties coffee stand as a settlement to a lawsuit that was filed against the city.The lawsuit claimed that the city’s ordinance requiring quick-service employees to wear at least a tank top and shorts was in violation of their First Amendment rights. The legal complaint was filed by Edge and employees Natalie Bjerke, Matteson Hernandez, Leah Humphrey, Amelia Powell, and Liberty Ziska.

"Some countries make you wear lots of clothing because of their religious beliefs," stated Hernandez as quoted by the news agency. "But America is different because you can wear what you want to wear. I wear what I’m comfortable with and others can wear what they are comfortable with."

The newly amended ordinance allows baristas to work in minimal clothing, but they are still subject to the city’s existing lewd-conduct laws. Any establishment that receives two or more violations can be shut down.The settlement is viewed as a compromise as the city had initially spent nearly $400,000 defending the ordinance.The city faced a series of complaints in 2009, when local police found that several lewd coffee stands in Everett were being used for inappropriate conduct, including “sex shows” and prostitution. Following investigations into these establishments, four individuals were arrested and the problem seemed to be solved. However, by 2013, arrests were still being made on charges of prostitution and exploitation of minors.ViralWhite House Briefing Turns Chaotic as Journo Blasts Press Sec for ‘Mocking’ First Amendment21 March, 02:32 GMTIn 2017, the city introduced a dress code requirement for baristas, which mandated that they wear tank tops and shorts. However, this was deemed unconstitutional in October by a US District Court judge.Mayor Cassie Franklin believes that this new amendment to the ordinance will provide a way to deal with issues that may arise in future.”This has always been about protecting the best interest of our community and preventing exploitation,” Mayor Cassie Franklin said, adding thar “the amendments to the ordinance we are agreeing to enact will provide us with a new tool for addressing issues at individual stands while also providing support to employees that are being coerced or exploited in any way.”The city attorney, Ramerman, acknowledged that “still gives us our best tool to require stand owners to make sure their employees are not engaging in illegal conduct”.


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