February 16, 2018

NAFCU stands by CU at ADA hearing in Virginia

NAFCU last week attended a hearing on a defendant credit union's motion to dismiss an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) case. NAFCU remains active on ADA, engaging with various stakeholders on this issue and working with credit unions that are facing litigation.

NAFCU Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and General Counsel Carrie Hunt and Vice President of Regulatory Compliance Brandy Bruyere attended the hearing, as well as representatives from the Maryland-D.C. Credit Union Association.

The judge, T.S. Ellis III in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, Alexandria Division, heard arguments on issues such as the fact that the plaintiff is not a member or eligible to join the sued credit union and whether the plaintiff has any standing in this case.

NAFCU will keep members apprised as this case continues.

Last month, a separate case against a credit union was dismissed after 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.

However, because the lower court's decision is not binding under common law principles, 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.

Credit unions in at least 21 states have been impacted by demand letters and litigation threats regarding website accessibility requirements under the ADA. Resources for dealing with the ADA issue, including an updated FAQ document, can be found here.