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Overdrive Extra

James Jaillet

Caught in the crossfire of health regs, discrimination law

| September 10, 2012

As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration continues its quest toward tightening up health regulations for drivers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may have something to say about FMCSA’s potential to put drivers off the road, especially when employers are the ones pushing drivers out of the door for health-related problems.

At the Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference in August in Dallas (which coincided with The Great American Trucking Show), employment law attorney Eddie Wayland, a partner with King and Ballow, said the trucking industry, specifically fleets and trucking companies, are “caught in a vortex,” acting as the middlemen between the FMCSA’s changing medical regulations and the EEOC.

The EEOC protects all employees from discrimination based on the grounds of disability, such as health-related issues. Wayland said the battle will likely play out in the coming years in court cases, but employers are responsible for reasonably accommodating  employees with any impairment protected by the EEOC. Wayland said that includes anything that affects:

  • Walking
  • Working
  • Thinking
  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Hearing
  • Speaking
  • Breathing
  • Caring for one’s self
  • Learning
  • Communicating
  • Reading
  • Bending
  • Standing
  • Concentrating,
  • Performing manual task
  • Lifting
  • Interacting with others

The EEOC also includes in the list a whole host of disabilities that affect bodily function or any of the body’s systems. Wayland says “reasonable accommodation” means employers must work to change a disabled employee’s work environment so a disabled person can “enjoy equal employment opportunity.”

The takeaway? Don’t think a fleet can rule you out of its hiring pool (or treat you any differently than other drivers) based on your medical history or a medical condition, including sleep apnea. Even though FMCSA is trying, it doesn’t trump EEOC law — yet.


  • Truckeral Al Hammond

    I think it’s all about who will make the Big buck’s . It’s all BS.

  • Mike Jones

    cant imagine trying to sleep with that crazy thing “attached”..what a freak show….only thing missing is an I V drip!

  • Mike Jones

    ..looks like the guy was ALREADY involved in an accident! Really he needs to stay Home….maybe go to a Fat farm.

  • Don Lanier

    Sleep Apnea is serious, do I think every guy whose got a large waistband has it, NOPE, Do I believe the Medical clinics are attempting to corner the market on 5 BILLION dollars worth of treatments and equipment, HELL YES…I dont know how many guys have been pigeonholed into buying, paying and wearing these devices because they snore, Trick Questions on a medical exam, or clinics who FORCE drivers to take this when its not required, not mandated….My Dad snored, he lived to a ripe old age, Most the guys I know snore, so there all in dire need of a CPAP…Im sorry I dont buy it, Lobbys that have MONEY including GE, PHILLIPS, RESMED and others are working everyday to make this the LAW, and its a waste of your insurance money and your sleep, No I know some folks have Sleep apnea, My Best Friend had sleep apnea, He wore a CPAP and died of a heart attack in the shower….But the fact is some folks need it, but saying that 2/3 of all truckers have sleep apnea, or anyone with a BMI over 35, or anyone whose Large, BIG, or Obese is a fatality waiting to happen HOGWASH. What this industry needs is far less regulations especially the ones that have forced the safest drivers this business to ever have to quit… strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.