October 31, 2018

Oral arguments in CU's ADA case conclude; NAFCU awaits decision

Hunt, Bruyere at 4th Circuit
NAFCU's Carrie Hunt and Brandy Bruyere outside the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., Tuesday as they attend oral arguments for a credit union's ADA case.

Oral arguments concluded Tuesday in the case against the Department of Labor Federal Credit Union (DOLFCU) regarding unclear website accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). NAFCU attended the arguments, held by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; NAFCU has also filed an amicus brief in support of the credit union in this case, and also stood by DOLFCU during its first hearing earlier this year.

"NAFCU and our member credit unions are awaiting a decision at the appellate level, which could 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. "Credit unions strongly support ADA protections, but they have been targeted by meritless lawsuits because of unclear guidance on website applicability standards."

Hunt and Vice President of Regulatory Compliance Brandy Bruyere attended Tuesday's arguments, in which the panel of judges was engaged and well versed on the issue. NAFCU expects a decision to be issued in the upcoming month; the association will keep credit unions updated.

This was NAFCU's first filing at the appeals court level; its second was in support of Northwest Federal Credit Union, which is also under the Fourth Circuit's jurisdiction. Oral arguments have not been scheduled yet for this case and are expected to be held until the DOLFCU case is decided.

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, seven 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.