February 02, 2018

ADA litigation focus of new Compliance Blog post

A new NAFCU Compliance Blog post offers credit unions an update on lawsuits related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and website accessibility requirements. NAFCU has been active on the issue, defending credit unions facing lawsuits and demand letters while also calling for clear guidance from federal agencies.

In the post, "ADA Litigation Update: One Down, More to Go," NAFCU Special Counsel for Compliance and Research Pamela Yu details a recent court decision to grant a credit union's motion to dismiss a lawsuit in which the plaintiff claimed the credit union's website was not compliant with the ADA. NAFCU had submitted an amicus brief in this case in support of the credit union.

"The ruling represents a big initial victory for credit unions facing growing litigation threats over unclear website accessibility requirements under the ADA," Yu wrote.

Yu explained the court's decision that the plaintiff didn't have standing to sue as he was not a member of the credit union and was also not eligible for membership. The court also found that a website is not a place of public accommodation subject to Title III ADA protections.

However, because the lower court's decision is not binding under common law principles, Yu said other judges considering similar credit union ADA cases could rule differently, although the case should be persuasive especially as it is the first to rule on whether credit union membership is necessary to establish standing in this kind of suit.

NAFCU has filed three additional amicus briefs to support credit unions; all briefs have been accepted.

Last week, NAFCU wrote to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging it to look into the rise in ADA lawsuits and to press the Justice Department to issue clear ADA website standards. NAFCU has also engaged with other stakeholders on this issue, including with Congress, states' attorneys general and the Justice Department directly to clarify regulatory standards for websites.

Resources for dealing with the ADA issue can be found here.