January 11, 2018

Berger: NAFCU fighting for CUs targeted by ADA lawsuits

NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger, in a message to association members yesterday, provided an update on NAFCU's efforts thus far to put an end to meritless lawsuits filed under website accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), obtain clear guidance on the issue and help those credit unions currently facing litigation.

"NAFCU is standing with credit unions in the fight against unfair ADA lawsuits," wrote Berger. He noted that credit unions in Virginia, Georgia, California, Maryland, South Carolina, Michigan, the District of Columbia, New York, Texas and Washington have reported receiving nearly identical demand letters.

Berger addressed NAFCU's current support of three Virginia credit unions' motions to dismiss complaints filed against them in federal district court by submitting an amicus brief. So far, the judges in two of the three cases have accepted NAFCU's briefs and, last week, NAFCU stood with one credit union as a court held hearings on the credit union's motion.

He also highlighted NAFCU's letter to the U.S. Attorney General asking that the Justice Department consider issuing guidance or an interim final rule that would provide clarity in the area of website accessibility under the ADA. Last month, NAFCU wrote to the National Association of Attorneys General to look into the issue. Also last month, the Justice Department rescinded past rulemaking documents on this issue, noting it intended to further evaluate whether a rule is necessary; Berger said this could be a potential starting point for action.

On the legislative front, Berger outlined, NAFCU supports the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) and is actively working to expand the bill's protections to cover website-related lawsuits. NAFCU also sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the impact of lawsuit abuse on small businesses, requesting that committee leaders take steps to curb the rise in frivolous ADA lawsuits. A separate letter urges the House Judiciary Committee to address this important issue.

NAFCU will continue to keep its members apprised of any new developments regarding litigation risk due to website accessibility under the ADA. In addition, NAFCU has been offering several different resources to members on this issue, including a webcast – "Must a Credit Union Website be ADA Compliant?" – and best practices from in-house compliance and legal experts, as well as monthly publications to help member credit unions identify the risks involved so they can make informed business decisions.

A complete rundown of NAFCU's resources related to ADA website litigation is available through this landing page.