EIGHTH CIRCUIT COURT RULES ON SLEEP APNEA TESTING FOR DRIVERS

Last week, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision on a pending case of a national commercial vehicle carrier wanting to require drivers at its company to be tested for sleep apnea when their body mass index (BMI) is greater than 35.

The Court, whose decision-making authority is outranked only by the U.S. Supreme Court, indicated that the company’s instituted policy is “legitimate and non-discriminatory,” and that the ruling does not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The plaintiff in the case refused a company-ordered sleep apnea study, claiming that the company-policy requirement was an unlawful medical examination and that he was being discriminated against on the basis of a perceived disability, and he was suspended from his job.

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The Court rejected those arguments, concluding that the employer’s program reasonably identified a class of drivers at risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and that the testing itself was “job-related and consistent with business necessity.”

The decision will most likely be followed by other courts who will be hearing similar cases. The Eighth Circuit encompasses the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.