US accessibility court case against H&R Block settled

  • Author: Tim Lohman
  • Date: 7 Mar 2014

Tax preparer H&R Block has settled a case brought against it alleging that its subsidiaries, HRB Digital LLC and HRB Tax Group Inc., violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The case, brought by the US Department of Justice, argued that individuals with disabilities were denied full and equal enjoyment of largely tax-preparation focused goods and services provided through H&R Block’s website and mobile applications.

The Department of Justice’s case supported an action brought by the US National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and two individuals against HRB Digital LLC for breaches of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the Department of Justice, the complaint alleged that H&R Block had failed to code its website in a manner that would make it accessible to individuals who have vision, hearing and physical disabilities.

In settling the case, through entering into a consent decree, H&R Block will be required to make its website, tax filing utility and mobile apps conform to the Level AA Success Criteria of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). 

According to the court's decree, H&R Block’s website will be accessible for the start of the US’s next tax filing term on 1 January 2015, with additional accessibility deadlines during the full five year term of the decree. 

HRB Digital and HRB Tax Group will also be required to:

  • Appoint a skilled web accessibility coordinator who will report to H&R Block’s enterprise chief information officer
  • Adopt a web accessibility policy
  • Initiate training on accessible design for its web content personnel
  • Evaluate employee and contractor performance based on successful web access programming
  • Conduct regular automated and user group testing
  • Hire an approved outside consultant to prepare annual independent evaluations of Block’s online accessibility

 H&R Block will also pay US$45,000 to the two individual plaintiffs, and a US$55,000 civil penalty.