May 14, 2019

CU's ADA lawsuit dismissal upheld

gavelThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has upheld the dismissal of another lawsuit against a NAFCU-supported credit union related to unclear website accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). NAFCU filed three amicus briefs in support of Northwest Federal Credit Union.

The original complaint against Northwest was dismissed in January 2018 and an amended complaint in the lawsuit was dismissed in April 2018. NAFCU filed the third amicus with the appeals court in July; in its decision, the court agreed that the plaintiff lacked standing. The Fourth Circuit previously issued a similar decision in a case against the Department of Labor Federal Credit Union (DOLFCU).

Credit unions across the country started being targeted by meritless lawsuits under the ADA due to unclear website accessibility requirements in Fall 2017. NAFCU filed 16 amicus briefs in seven different states to support credit unions targeted by ADA website accessibility litigation. So far, 10 of the complaints in which NAFCU has supported the credit union have been dismissed. There have been no new federal lawsuits filed against credit unions since April 2018.

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.

The association has engaged with the Department Of Justice (DOJ) and Congress to provide guidance, and in September, a group of senators – led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa – sent a NAFCU-sought letter to the DOJ urging that it provide clarity on this issue. During a NAFCU-secured listening session with the DOJ in March, credit unions provided direct feedback on the issue and reiterated the need for guidance.