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Fix or Fight? How Should Your Bank Approach ADA Website Litigation?

Question: 
Even though legal trends favor plaintiffs, should my bank try to fight an ADA lawsuit or should we just make our website and mobile applications ADA compliant?
Answer: 

It is in the best interest of all businesses to ensure that their websites and applications are ADA-compliant.

However, even with the legal trends favoring plaintiffs, some bank executives choose to pay the costs of a legal settlement rather than make the financial investment needed to fix their websites. This is a mistake.

“If you settle with them, it’s a short-term resolution, but you’re susceptible to other cases,” said Mark Shapiro, president of the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, a technology consulting firm in Providence, R.I. “It’s not a smart thing to do.”
But banks and credit unions continue to be sued over website issues. And, in some cases, financial institutions have fought back.
Consider a lawsuit filed in February 2018 against Amalgamated Bank in New York. The plaintiff, Eugene Duncan of Queens, N.Y., alleged that he could not access the bank’s website because he is legally blind. Amalgamated responded in a court filing a month later that it was “ready and willing” to help Duncan access its services through other means, such as telephone banking, “but Plaintiff never asked for or sought any assistance.”
Duncan is “a serial plaintiff who filed this lawsuit to try to extort a monetary settlement,” Amalgamated said in the filing.
Amalgamated also said that the website of Duncan’s two law firms also did not comply with the ADA. It included a screenshot of both firms’ web pages in a court filing.
What happened next between Amalgamated and Duncan was not revealed in court. But six months after the bank submitted its response, the two sides agreed to a settlement. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Join this webinar and discover how your bank can make a concerted effort to improve access for disabled customers—not just in the design of your technology platforms, but also by retrofitting branches and ATMs, making it easier for the disabled to open accounts, and also by training disabled job applicants to help them become employees.
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Learn more about Carly Souther webinar ADA Website Compliance

First published on 12/29/2019

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