Compliance: What are CU ADA requirements for employees, members?

February 16, 2016

WASHINGTON (2/16/16)--A number of credit unions have reached out to Credit Union National Association (CUNA) compliance staff lately regarding the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The bill became law in 1991, and its provisions covering employment requirements (Title I) and public accommodations (Title III) are a must-know for credit unions.

The goal of Title I is to make sure disabled individuals have the same employment opportunities and privileges available to people who are not disabled. Credit unions are required to make reasonable accommodations to the known disabilities of qualified applicants or employees, unless it would create and undue hardship for the credit union.

If the credit union can show that the cost of the accommodation would impose an undue hardship, it would still be required to provide the accommodation if the funding is available from another source, such as a vocational rehabilitation agency, available tax deductions or tax credits to offset the cost of the accommodation.

If the credit union receives, or is eligible to receive, monies from an external source that would pay the entire cost of the accommodation, it cannot claim cost as an undue hardship.

In the absence of such funding, the individual with a disability requesting the accommodation should be given the option of providing the accommodation or of paying that portion of the cost which constitutes the undue hardship on the operation of the business.

Regarding Title III, every credit union is considered a "public accommodation" and is covered by ADA. Credit unions must comply by makings facilities and services accessible to the disabled, in some cases even if the credit union has never had a disabled member.

The Department of Justice has also taken the position that access to websites falls under the scope of public accommodations. While no proposed regulations on website accessibility have been issued, the DOJ has stated in ADA guidance materials that it expects to engage in rulemaking in the "near future"

CUNA's compliance staff looked even deeper into ADA requirements on CompBlog, including definitions of "undue hardship" and "undue burden," as well as a look at what "in the near future" means. CUNA's eGuide to Federal Laws and Regulations also features an ADA Resources Guide. For the latest compliance news, discussion points and issues, CUNA's Compliance Community is the go-to resource for information from compliance experts around the country.