January 05, 2018

NAFCU stands by CU at first ADA hearing in Virginia

NAFCU last week attended a hearing on a defendant credit union's mission to dismiss an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) case in which the association also filed an amicus brief. The outcome of this case has the potential to impact other pending cases, especially since it is one of the first involving a credit union.

NAFCU's brief was accepted by the court.

Friday was the first hearing out of several Virginia cases involving a credit union. NAFCU Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and General Counsel Carrie Hunt and Vice President of Regulatory Compliance Brandy Bruyere attended the hearing.

The judge, Liam O'Grady in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, Alexandria Division, heard arguments on issues such as to what extent the ADA may apply to websites, 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.

Credit unions and other institutions have faced a rash of lawsuits in the past year related to website accessibility because of ambiguities in the ADA's language. NAFCU and its members strongly support the protections of the ADA and efforts to ensure individuals with disabilities are not discriminated against and have equal access to financial services.

The Department of Justice recently announced it is reconsidering the need for ADA rules related to website accessibility; NAFCU has urged the department to move forward with proposed rulemaking to clarify the act's standards and protect credit unions from undue burdens.

NAFCU is also engaged with Congress and states' attorneys general to address frivolous lawsuits. The association has an in-depth article on the issue available to credit unions online.