January 03, 2019

Appeals court dismisses ADA lawsuit against NAFCU-supported CU

gavelThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has dismissed a lawsuit against the Department of Labor Federal Credit Union (DOLFCU) related to unclear website accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). NAFCU stood by DOLFCU at oral arguments before the court in October and filed an amicus brief in support of the credit union in this case.

The court determined the plaintiff lacked standing.

"This is an important decision for credit unions – it's the first dismissal at the appellate level, which is likely to set a heavier precedent than those we've already seen from lower court cases," said Carrie Hunt, NAFCU's executive vice president of government affairs and general counsel. "NAFCU will continue to support credit unions facing these meritless lawsuits and work with the Justice Department to get clear guidance on the issue."

NAFCU has been active on this issue over the past year and has also engaged with the Justice Department and Congress to provide guidance. In September, a group of senators – led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa – sent a NAFCU-sought letter to the Justice Department urging that it provide clarity on this issue.

The association has filed 16 amicus briefs in seven different states to support credit unions targeted by ADA website accessibility litigation. So far, eight of the complaints in which NAFCU has supported the credit union have been dismissed.

While NAFCU and its members strongly support the protections of the ADA, it believes that these efforts are best achieved through clear guidance and standards for website compliance, not through meritless and costly lawsuits.

NAFCU resources for dealing with the ADA issue can be found here.