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Supreme Court Says Obesity No Defense

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a decision favoring Crete Carrier Corp. in its dispute with an obese driver who was fired after he refused to take a sleep apnea test.

The High Court refused to hear the case, allowing a lower court decision to stand, which had sided with Crete’s argument that its actions were not in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Crete ordered the driver to submit to a sleep apnea test when it found he had exceeded the Body Mass Index number of 35, which the company had said required a driver be tested.

BMI, is a measure of body fat based on height and weight, and someone with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese.

The driver refused to undergo the test, providing a note from a physician assistant stating that the test was not medically necessary.

Crete implemented the testing program in 2010 based on recommendations from two Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration advisory committees. They concluded that the tests would reduce the risk of accidents caused by commercial drivers with obstructive sleep apnea.

The appeals court decision upheld by the Supreme Court determined that the sleep test was job-related since it concerned a condition that might impair driving. The appeals court also ruled the test was a business necessity because it is the only way to determine whether sleep apnea exists.

The appeals court also rejected the driver’s argument that Crete was discriminating against him under the ADA law because he was fat.

In that regard, the appeals court agreed that Crete’s only reason for suspending Parker was his refusal to undergo the sleep apnea testing.

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