Drivers with apnea need not apply

By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

“No drivers can be accepted that suffer from SLEEP APNEA and are using a CPAC (sic) machine.”

That’s the last line in a recent classified ad about hiring Class A drivers in the Dallas area.

Kind of seems harsh, and in violation of moral laws, if not U.S. labor laws.

So we called a recruiter listed in the ad with some questions.

Can you prevent someone from applying if they have been diagnosed with sleep apnea?

What if they were diagnosed, treated and now sleep better than ever?

Scores of doctors, lab technicians and CPAP manufacturers have been beating the drum on sleep apnea for years.  Unfortunately, the scare and moneymaking tactic is working.

In fact, Land Line first reported about a growing effort to not only educate but also test truckers for apnea nearly 10 years ago. A medical group surveyed a number of truck drivers in the name of health and safety, or so they said.

As it turned out, OOIDA offices received call after call from drivers who had been let go shortly after being diagnosed with sleep apnea. The drivers were given different reasons for being let go, Managing Editor Sandi Soendker recalls, but a common thread was their recent apnea diagnosis.

At a trucking and sleep apnea conference last year in Baltimore, an entire discussion by attorneys focused on the legal and insurance risks carriers could face by knowingly employing someone who may have a sleep condition.

We’re seeing the fruits of these scare tactics coming to life.

Clear as a black-and-white classified ad in a newspaper, apnea has been used against truckers as both a moneymaker and a scarlet letter.

And now motor carriers are openly discriminating against drivers who seek medical help for it or, more likely, those who work for carriers that require their own testing.

Sadly, we never got a call back from Teresa, the recruiter listed in the ad. No doubt she was busy. With a shortage of experienced and safe drivers looming, we suspect Teresa and other recruiters are busy sifting through the applicants. 

Well, at least the ones not yet gobbled up by the big sleep and big trucking industries. LL