Trade Groups Pressing Justice Department for ADA Clarity
With proposals to assist credit unions seeking relief from lawsuits under the Americans for Disabilities Act hung up in Congress, trade groups are continuing to press the Department of Justice to provide guidance on the issue.
In 2010, the Department of Justice issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking setting ADA standards for businesses with websites. Last year, the Obama Administration opened the comment period for rules.
Subsequently, the Trump Administration placed the rules on the inactive list as part of its efforts to stop many rules that had been proposed by President Obama.
In recent months, dozens of lawsuits have been filed against credit unions alleging credit union websites are not in compliance with the ADA. Many of the lawsuits have been filed by the same attorneys.
By stopping the rulemaking process, the Trump Administration has left unclear the standards that credit unions must use in designing websites.
Credit union trade group officials recently met with DoJ officials to discuss the issue and are now pressing the department in letters
“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,” CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle said, in a letter to John Gore, the Justice Department’s deputy assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. “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.”
NAFCU officials also are seeking clarity.
“The current ‘grey area’ has led to an increase in frivolous litigation which is equating to real dollars being taken out of the hands of credit union members to be put into the pockets of plaintiff’s attorneys,” NAFCU President/CEO B. Dan Berger said, in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers also is pressing the DoJ.
On the congressional front, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing last week on Republican proposals to tighten rules governing civil suits. However, the panel remains badly divided if such legislation is needed.
The trade groups also are urging the House to act on legislation that would clarify ADA issues.