Summary Judgment in Medical Exam and Perceived Disability Discrimination Case

The U. S. District Court for the District of Nebraska granted the trucking company summary judgment on all of plaintiff’s claims. In the case, plaintiff claimed he was discriminated against in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(A), by the company requesting him to undergo obstructive sleep apnea (“OSA”) screening due to his body mass index (“BMI”) of greater than 33. He claimed it was a wrongful medical exam and inquiry. He also claimed the company perceived him as disabled in violation of the ADA despite his positive safety record of driving and training for the company.

The company had a workplace policy of requiring new and current drivers with a 33 and above BMI on their most recent Department of Transportation (“DOT”) physical exam to undergo OSA screening via a sleep study at one of the company’s dedicated testing centers. Plaintiff had a BMI on his most recent DOT physical exam greater than 33, but he refused to participate in the sleep study. He also had a physician’s assistant fax a note to the company saying a sleep study was not “medically necessary” for him. Even so, the company took him out of service due to his failure to comply with the policy. Plaintiff claimed he was constructively discharged and sought past and future wage loss damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees.

The Court granted the company summary judgment on the medical exam and inquiry claim, because the company “made a showing of job-relatedness and business necessity of its inquiry and medical-examination request, and Parker [] failed to rebut that showing[.]” “Based on [the company’s] knowledge of DOT regulations, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recommendations, and obvious safety concerns associated with OSA and fatigued drivers of commercial vehicles, [the company] had sufficient objective evidence upon which it could determine that requiring its drivers with a BMI of 33 or above to submit to a sleep study was job-related and consistent with business necessity within the meaning of the ADA, and a jury could not find otherwise.”

On the perceived disability claim, the Court held that, “As discussed above, taking [plaintiff] out of service was a consequence of not complying with [the company’s] narrowly defined sleep apnea policy that was developed in reliance on DOT regulations and recommendations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and is uniformly applicable to all of [the company’s] drivers having a BMI of 33 or above. Because plaintiff has failed to show that [the company’s] stated reason for its action is pretextual and based on intentional discrimination, summary judgment must be granted in favor of [the company] on this claim.”

Parker v. Crete Carrier Corp., Case No. 4:14CV3195, 158 F.Supp.3d 813 (Dist. Neb. Jan. 20, 2016) (on appeal).

Memorandum and Order