ADA Website Litigation

NAFCU is committed to protecting credit unions by fighting the recent flood of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) website litigation targeting the industry. We recognize the importance of the ADA and fully support the ability for all Americans to be free from discrimination. However, costly lawsuits against well-intentioned credit unions that exploit an area of unsettled law will take real dollars out of the hands of credit union member-owners.

A Win for the Industry

On January 26, 2018, in a victory for credit unions facing litigation over unclear website requirements under the ADA, a federal district court in Virginia found that the plaintiff to such a lawsuit did not have standing to sue the credit union because he was not eligible for membership and would not likely use the credit union's services.

In addition, the court indicated that a website is not a place of public accommodation, thus certain ADA protections were not triggered. In this case, NAFCU filed an amicus brief supporting the credit union. 

NAFCU continues to work with member credit unions facing litigation over unclear website accessibility requirements under the ADA and urges credit unions impacted by this issue to reach out for assistance.

Lack of Regulatory Guidance

Currently, there is a regulatory void with respect to standards for website accessibility for entities like credit unions. The ADA and the Department of Justice's (DOJ) regulations are silent on website accessibility standards. For numerous years, the DOJ has gathered information on standards for website accessibility, but in December 2017 withdrew this initiative from its rulemaking agenda and even rescinded two related advanced notices of proposed rulemaking.

Download answers to frequently asked questions regarding ADA website litigation for more detailed information (Updated 2/12/18)

Our Position

NAFCU remains committed to ensuring that disabled individuals have fair and equal access to financial services, but credit unions should not be the victims of ambiguities in federal law. We will continue to fight for credit unions and to stand with our members in the face of these meritless legal actions threatening the industry. NAFCU is fully engaged with Congress on this issue and urges DOJ to issue clear guidance on ADA website accessibility standards to help stem the rise of costly lawsuits. However, we will continue to fight against attempts by plaintiffs firms to exploit unsettled law.

NAFCU's Recent Activity on ADA Litigation

NAFCU is at the forefront of this issue and will continue to be proactive from all angles given the rapid increase in litigation risk.

  • 1-26-18 A lawsuit in which NAFCU filed an amicus brief supporting the credit union was dismissed by a Virginia federal district court, finding that the plaintiff did not have standing to sue because he was not eligible for membership and not likely to use the credit union services. Additionally, the court indicated that a website is not a place of public accommodation, thus certain ADA protections were not triggered.
  • 1-19-18 NAFCU submitted a fourth amicus brief to support a Virginia credit union's motion to dismiss a complaint filed against them in federal district court under the ADA. The court has accepted NAFCU's latest brief. 
  • 1-17-18 NAFCU President and CEO B. Dan Berger sent a letter to the most active law firm in these frivolous lawsuits, demanding that they retract threats of legal action and cease and desist from making further demands.
  • December 2017 - NAFCU submitted briefs as amicus curiae to support three Virginia credit unions' motions to dismiss complaints filed against them in federal district court.

    In all three cases, the plaintiff is a person who is not a member or not even clearly within the credit union's field of membership. So far, the judges in two of the three cases have accepted NAFCU's briefs, and on January 5, 2018 NAFCU stood with one credit union during its hearing. The judge heard arguments on issues including to what extent the ADA may apply to websites, the fact that the plaintiff is not a member or eligible to join the sued credit union, and whether the plaintiff has standing, or the ability to sue in the first place.

    This hearing was the first out of several Virginia cases involving credit unions, and the outcome of this case has the potential to impact other pending cases especially as it is one of the first involving a credit union.

Resources for Credit Unions