It’s a Great Day to be a Credit Union

June 29, 2020 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

I just found out that the Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, upholding NCUA’s interpretation of its fields of membership requirements. I will have much more to say about this tomorrow, but for now, suffice it to say that this is the most important ruling to ever come down in favor of credit unions, with the potential to have an impact well beyond the field of membership issues. If credit unions accomplish nothing else for the rest of the year, 2020 will still have been a major success. 


Don’t forget about ADA Compliance


It’s been awhile since I’ve given any thought to the issue of ADA website compliance. However, the other day, I saw a California State Court decision (Martinez v. San Diego) which reminded me that the issue is still alive and well. In its decision, the court ruled that a lawsuit alleging a violation of the ADA by a credit union without specific features for visually impaired members visiting their website could go forward. The case is a reminder that credit unions must remain vigilant to these types of compliance issues. 


Let’s Take a Trip Down Memory Lane


Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, public buildings must generally be made accessible to disabled individuals. The issue at the heart of all this litigation is over whether this also applies to online structures. As pointed out by this ruling, the courts have essentially come down in to separate camps on this issue. One group has decided that the ADA simply does not apply to websites. Another has ruled that the ADA does apply to websites (Second Circuit Court with jurisdiction over New York), and the third group has decided that the ADA applies to websites where there is a nexus between the site and the physical location. 


In this case, a California court has ruled that a credit union’s website is subject to the ADA because of the nexus between the physical location and the online services offered on the credit union’s website. Why is this important? Most of the cases in which credit unions have been involved have been dismissed because the person seeking to sue the credit union couldn’t become a member. Sooner or later, your credit union may be sued by someone who falls within your field of membership. If and when this happens, the legality of your website will be debated on the merits. Given the amount of time that credit unions have had to prepare for this kind of litigation, there is absolutely no reason to put your credit union at risk by failing to ensure your website is in compliance with the ADA. One of the many things that we have learned during the pandemic is that a website is an essential part of your branch operations. 

Entry filed under: Compliance, Legal Watch. Tags: , , , .

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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., Senior Vice President, General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association. In addition, although Henry strives to give his readers useful and accurate information on a broad range of subjects, many of which involve legal disputes, his views are not a substitute for legal advise from retained counsel.

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