Credit unions ‘under siege’ by frivolous ADA lawsuits
'Some firms do this for a living,' legal expert says.
The credit union industry is “under siege” by frivolous lawsuits alleging website noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to Michelle Anderson, partner with the law firm of Fisher Phillips.
Dozens of lawsuits have been filed across all industries nationwide, especially in California, Florida, and New York, she says.
“Private lawsuits are the biggest threat—they’re a cottage industry,” Anderson says. “Some firms do this for a living—they have testers to see if you’re in compliance. The problem is, there’s no recovery to individual plaintiffs; all of the recovery goes to the lawyer.”
Common allegations in ADA lawsuits include:
- The website fails to accommodate those with hearing, visual, or kinesthetic impairments.
- The user is unable to use a mouse and must navigate with a keyboard, touchscreen, or voice recognition software.
- The user is unable to use a screen reader or specialized software to magnify the content of a page, have it read aloud, or to display the text using a braille reader.
- The user is unable to hear information on the website, audio content does not include closed captioning, or images don’t include captions.
- Due to discriminatory barriers, users can’t use online services, determine locations for physical branches, determine whether ADA-compliant services are available at physical branches, and determine whether there are alternative ways to obtain information about products and services.
To improve website accessibility, Anderson advises credit unions to:
- Provide captions with video and full text transcripts. Include a mechanism to stop, pause, mute, or adjust volume for audio that automatically plays on a page for more than three seconds.
- Add a text alternative to all of your images, audio, and video, and label all of your controls, such as “search” or “submit.”
- Break up content with subheadings for new sections, label elements, and provide instructions.
- Use more than color to communicate instructions and other critical information.
- Distinguish text links from surrounding text with a clear contrast between the link and the text.
Anderson addressed the 2018 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference.
Visit CUNA News for more conference coverage, and get live updates on Twitter via @CUNACraig, @cumagazine, @CUNACouncils, and by using the #MBDCouncil hashtag. Learn more about the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council, a member-led professional society for credit union executives, at cunacouncils.org.