U.S. Supreme Court denies trucker's appeal in BMI case against Crete

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 4/4/2017

The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday, April 3, that it will not hear a truck driver’s appeal that accused Crete Carrier of discriminating against him because of his weight. The denial means an earlier ruling, which said Crete had the right to suspend the truck driver, will stand.

Robert J. Parker, a former employee for Crete, was no longer given work by the company after he refused to undergo a sleep study because he had a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35. Parker contended that requiring him to test for obstructive sleep apnea based solely on his BMI was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In October 2016, however, the appeals court sided with Crete.

“When an employer requires a class of employees to submit to a medical exam, it also must show that it has reasons consistent with business necessity for defining the class the way that it has,” the court wrote. “An employer satisfied this burden by showing a reasonable basis for concluding that the class poses a genuine safety risk and the exam requirement allows the employer to decrease that risk effectively.”

Crete requested Parker to take the sleep study in July 2013, asking all drivers with a BMI of 35 or more to be tested for sleep apnea. Parker’s Department of Transportation physical at the time listed him at 6-foot-5 and 311 pounds, which equates to a BMI of 36.9.

Parker responded by visiting a certified physician’s assistant, who wrote a prescription stating, “I do not feel it is medically necessary for Robert to have a sleep study.”

Despite the note, Crete took Parker out of service.

Parker, who started working for Crete in 2006, argued that he never had any documented sleep issues at work and that Crete gave him an award in 2012 for five years of accident-free driving and named him a top trainer.

Joy Shiffermiller, an attorney for Parker, told Land Line in November 2016 that Parker has never been diagnosed with sleep apnea and that he has since passed another DOT physical and continues to use his commercial driver’s license for another company at a lower rate of pay.

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