Removing Barriers Blog

CUNA Stresses Need for ADA Lawsuit Solution to New Attorney General Barr
Posted February 21, 2019 by CUNA Advocacy

CUNA wrote to newly confirmed Attorney General William Barr Tuesday to call attention to the legal threats facing credit unions due to uncertainty with how the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to websites. Due to a lack of specific guidance, credit unions around the country have been hit with frivolous lawsuits claiming noncompliance with the ADA.

“We stand ready to work with the Department in any capacity necessary,” the letter reads. “CUNA strongly recommends the Department reconsider its approach and clarify the issue through guidance or a rulemaking – until that time, the ADA will continue to be applied unevenly and unpredictably based on the whims of local federal courts.”

CUNA’s letter notes the specific toll these kinds of frivolous suits have on credit unions.

“As community-based financial institutions, the strain on resources that inevitably results from frivolous lawsuits can have an outsized effect, and even a single lawsuit can jeopardize the ability of a small credit union to effectively serve its members,” the letter reads. “Every dollar spent fighting a meritless lawsuit is a dollar that cannot be applied toward helping members meet their financial needs and achieve their financial goals.”

CUNA has fully deployed its 360-degree advocacy toward finding a solution to these concerns including:

  • Joining with state leagues to file amicus briefs in defense of credit unions hit with these lawsuits, most recently in Michigan. CUNA also saw a victory in January with the dismissal of an appellate-level ADA case against a credit union;
  • Meeting on several occasions with previous Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his staff, including a roundtable in December, and following up with detailed letters describing the issue and potential solutions;
  • Coordinating with state leagues on a letter to Sessions from 19 state attorneys general to the DOJ expressing the need for a solution; and
  • Engaging with both chambers of Congress, resulting in letters to Sessions from 103 members of Congress, and another from six Senators. This engagement also resulted in language calling for clarity in the recent government funding bill signed by President Donald Trump last week.