A federal judge has thrown out yet another lawsuit targeting a credit union for alleged violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act on its website.

A federal district court in Virginia today tossed a suit against ABNB Federal Credit Union on the grounds that the plaintiff did not have standing to sue because of ineligibility for membership. A number of similar suits have been dismissed for that same reason already this year.

"NAFCU is pleased to see yet another lawsuit dismissed against a credit union on this matter," said Dan Berger, president and CEO of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions. "It is another win for the industry as the courts recognize these plaintiffs have no standing."

Dan Berger, president and CEO of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions
Dan Berger, president and CEO of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions Harrison McClary

Prior to the decision, NAFCU filed an amicus brief in support of this credit union.

The judge’s move comes just days after NAFCU senior staff met with representatives from the Department of Justice in the hopes of clarifying standards relative to credit union websites and ADA accessibility.

Carrie Hunt, EVP of government affairs and general counsel, NAFCU
Carrie Hunt, EVP of government affairs and general counsel, NAFCU

“DOJ has said it’s been their long-standing position that ADA applies to websites but there should be flexibility, yet the’ve formally withdrawn their advanced notice of proposed rulemaking and are still actively considering whether rules need to be promulgated or where they go from here,” explained Carrie Hunt, NAFCU's EVP of government affairs and general counsel. “We absolutely want the most flexibility possible for credit unions, but obviously until there’s more clarity we’re in this void where credit unions are continuing to get sued – now we’re up to at least 21 states [with CUs facing ADA lawsuits over website accessibility].”

Hunt said that while DOJ has been receptive to credit unions’ concerns, the agency is still “in listen mode” and needs to “resolve internally what position they think they need to take going forward.”

“Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where there are still a number of vacancies over at DOJ,” continued Hunt. “There are a number of people in ‘acting’ capacity and there are other priorities now. We’re continuing to push to move this up the priority list but there’s no firm timeline [for how soon DOJ might act].”

In the meantime, said Hunt, NAFCU continues to meet with DOJ, Congress and state attorneys general, as well as file amicus briefs in support of CUs facing such suits. “We are making progress; we are moving in the right direction.

“This is an issue that’s been going on for well over a year, so certainly DOJ has met with credit unions over the course of these discussions,” she said. “That is helpful…they’re well aware of the impact and the number of credit unions [that have been sued]. This really does come down to priorities and coming up with a policy that’s going to be helpful not just for disabled individuals but for credit unions, banks and other industries as well.”

NAFCU plans to continue to press lawmakers on the issue and expects more meetings on the Hill in the coming weeks. But NAFCU also has its own priority that credit unions have been pressing for years: reg relief.

Before the next meetings on ADA, said Hunt, “we’re trying to get S. 2155 passed here first.”

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