Client Alert: Threats of ADA Website Accessibility Lawsuits Increasing in the Financial Sector
- Management should immediately alert IT departments to focus on testing and implement solutions for any deficiencies.
- IT Audits should evaluate accessibility standards.
- Review your IT contracts to limit risk.
- Contact legal and IT professionals immediately to develop a strategy if your institution is targeted.
Increasing Use of Plaintiffs' Strategy Directed at Financial Institutions
Over the past few years, plaintiffs' firms and disability rights advocacy groups have sued companies throughout the United States alleging that the companies' websites were not sufficiently accessible to individuals with disabilities and, therefore, violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). These lawsuits primarily involve consumers with vision and hearing impairments.
Recently, we have seen a disturbing increase in demands made against financial institutions making similar allegations. The matters usually begin with a demand letter that claims the institution's website is deficient because it does not meet the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines ("WCAG 2.0 AA") standards. As a result, the demand letter alleges that the financial institution is violating Title III of the ADA. A demand letter typically requests that the financial institution engage in settlement discussions (based on its legal fees and costs), agree to modify the company's website and permit the plaintiffs' "experts" to assess and monitor whether the website stays in compliance with the WCAG 2.0 AA standards.
We Can Help You
Several years ago our Financial Institutions Group formed a Cybersecurity & Technology Team to counsel financial institutions on emerging technological and cyber matters. We can help you understand your institution's risk and exposure to allegations that your website is not ADA compliant and develop a strategy to mitigate any risks, whether or not you receive one of these demand letters. Please call us if you are interested in discussing these issues or to seek counsel in this important area.