So, you got an ADA demand letter? Here’s what to do next
Thursday, December 21, 2017
The Carolinas Credit Union League’s Compliance Department continues to receive inquiries concerning the predatory lawsuits being filed against credit unions related to ADA website accessibility. Several credit unions in North and South Carolina have already received demand letters along with a growing number of credit unions across the United States.
And while the League and CUNA advocate on the legislative side for a fix to this predatory lawsuit activity as well as urge the Department of Justice to issue proposed rules on the matter in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it’s helpful now for credit unions to know what to do if they’ve received a demand letter.
The following are steps to take after receiving a demand letter:
Step 1: Notify your bond/insurer and request instruction on next steps specific to your credit union. The League reached out to CUNA Mutual Group to learn what steps they were taking to assist their clients. According to its litigation department, CUNA Mutual has retained attorneys from the law offices of Jackson Lewis who are working with each credit union on a case by case basis. Jackson Lewis has offices in Greenville, SC and Raleigh, NC.
Step 2: After notifying your bond/insurer it is time review your website. Questions you should be asking as you review include (if applicable):
- Does the contract with the website vendor include a clause concerning ADA compliance? If you are not ADA compliant how long will it take them to fix the website?
- Does your IT department understand website accessibility and the ADA? Make sure someone is in place that understands the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). If you do not have the expertise, then your credit union should find a vendor that can determine if your website is compliant. If the website is not compliant then you should engage a third party that can fix the website. A list of vendors can also be found in 2017 Compliance Conference Panel presentation (see page 18).
- Are all pertinent departments “at the table” discussing ADA website compliance including how updating, reviewing and monitoring the website? Such as compliance, IT, marketing and audit departments.
- Do you have a compliance plan in place to tackle ADA website accessibility? Document a plan for compliance including timelines and present it to the board. This information will be helpful if the credit union receives a demand letter and for questions from regulators.
In addition, CUNA Mutual’s risk and compliance group just released a special edition Risk Alert for Credit Unions and a Risk Alert Overview for Bond Policyholders. If you have additional questions concerning CUNA Mutual’s alerts, contact the Risk and Compliance Solutions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The number of demand letters to credit unions is increasing across the U.S. and there are now multiple law firms that are sending the letters,” shared Jeanne Couchois, VP Compliance & Regulatory Counsel for the League. “If a credit union has not received an ADA demand letter now, it is likely they will receive one in the near future. Therefore, we recommend that all credit unions verify their website is compliant with WCAG 2.0 and if not establish a plan to become compliant.”
For more information, please visit the League’s ADA Website Compliance Resources page here or navigate from the homepage menu to “Compliance – News & Resources – Risk Resources.” The webpage includes articles, webinars, checklists and a list of ADA accessibility compliance service providers.