CUNA continued its push for clarity surrounding requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Thursday, following up its Oct. 31 meeting with the Department of Justice (DOJ). Credit unions are facing legal threats due to confusion with how the ADA applies to website accessibility, and CUNA is advocating for clear guidance from the DOJ.
“Unfortunately, this and other predatory class action litigation is particularly harmful to credit unions and their members because of their member-ownership structure. This structure means that the resources spent on litigation come directly out of the pockets of members and lead to raised costs at the expense of all members,” CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle wrote. “Our concerns with ADA lawsuit abuse surrounding website accessibility could be greatly ameliorated if the DOJ provided more clarity about whether there are specific requirements.”
The DOJ put out an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking governing website accessibility in 2010, but failed to finalize it.
“Plaintiffs' firms have taken advantage of this ambiguity to force credit unions and their members into paying settlement costs and of course, their attorneys’ fees," the letter reads. "The courts have also taken liberties in interpreting the DOJ’s intent and have, in certain instances, required a standard despite no due process for what is required."
Nussle added that if the DOJ is unable to finalize its regulation, it should “provide immediate clarification” that the proposal is inapplicable and no court should rely on its content.
In addition to its meeting with DOJ leaders, CUNA asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to push for guidance, and CUNA/league efforts led to 61 bipartisan legislators making the same request to the DOJ.