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"Website accessibility suits highlight need for DOJ rule" by David Baris (Law360)


David Baris

In January 2018, another round of litigation began hitting financial institutions alleging inaccessibility of websites for individuals with disabilities in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990,[1] which prohibits public accommodations from discriminating on the basis of disability. Title III of the ADA explicitly includes banks in the definition of a “public accommodation,”[2] but plaintiffs counsel have argued that it should also apply to other types of financial institutions.

Over the past decade, the plaintiffs bar has issued demand letters and brought hundreds of similar lawsuits at both the federal and state level against companies that qualify as public accommodations under the ADA (including retail establishments, restaurants and hotels). Concurrently with the rise in e-commerce, private litigation from individuals with disabilities and their advocacy groups has significantly increased since 2013,[3] and most companies have settled. Financial institutions are simply the latest target.

ADA website accessibility demand letters and lawsuits from plaintiffs counsel began hitting the financial services industry in mid-2016. The first wave began primarily against large and regional banks, followed by a second wave that targeted community banks in early 2017. Then, credit unions were hit during the fall of 2017. 

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Originally published in Law360; reprinted with permission.

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