The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Crete Carrier was not in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act when it forced a trucker to submit to sleep apnea testing because of his weight and then fired him when he refused to take the test.
Court Sides With Crete In Landmark Sleep Apnea Case
In a unanimous decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the court ruled yesterday that Crete did not act improperly when it placed driver Robert Parker out of service for refusing sleep apnea testing. The court stated that Crete’s policy of requiring sleep apnea testing for drivers with a BMI higher than 35 was job related and a business necessity.
According to court documents, Parker underwent a Commercial Driver Fitness Determination examination in 2012 and his height was recorded at 6’5″ with a weight of 296 pounds, making his BMI greater than 35. He qualified for a two year certificate during that exam.
Driver Argued That He Has Accident-Free Record And No Record Of Sleep Issues
Parker, who brought the suit before the court, argued that he should not be required to undergo sleep apnea testing because he had no documented sleep issues and had an accident-free driving record. He also argued that his own physician did not believe he needed sleep apnea testing. His suit claimed that Crete’s actions towards him were discriminatory and a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The court found that Crete’s sleep apnea requirement was necessary and not discriminatory: “By the undisputed facts, the sleep study requirement is job-related because it deals with a condition that impairs drivers’ abilities to operate their vehicles. It is consistent with business necessity: An examination is necessary to determine whether an individual has obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that poses a public safety hazard by increasing the risk of motor vehicle accidents. . .And Crete had reasons to suspect that Parker had sleep apnea, given his BMI. The in-lab sleep study is no broader or more intrusive than necessary because an examination is needed to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea and an in-lab sleep study is the best way to diagnose it. Crete was reasonable to define the class as drivers with BMIs of 35 or above because (1) it has a reasonable basis for concluding that class poses a safety risk given the correlation between high BMIs and obstructive sleep apnea, and (2) the sleep study requirement allows Crete to decrease the risk posed by that class by ensuring that drivers with sleep apnea get treatment.”
For the full text of the court’s opinion, click here.
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