Murphy v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 527 U.S. 516 (1999)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the tenth circuit

No. 97-1992. Argued April 27, 1999—Decided June 22, 1999

Respondent United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS), hired petitioner as a mechanic, a position that required him to drive commercial vehicles. To drive, he had to satisfy certain Department of Transportation (DOT) health certification requirements, including having "no current clinical diagnosis of high blood pressure likely to interfere with his/her ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely." 49 CFR 391.41(b)(6). Despite petitioner's high blood pressure, he was erroneously granted certification and commenced work. After the error was discovered, respondent fired him on the belief that his blood pressure exceeded the DOT's requirements. Petitioner brought suit under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the District Court granted respondent summary judgment, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed. Citing its decision in Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., 130 F. 3d 893, 902, aff'd, ante, p. 471, that an individual claiming a disability under the ADA should be assessed with regard to any mitigating or corrective measures employed, the Court of Appeals held that petitioner's hypertension is not a disability because his doctor testified that when medicated, petitioner functions normally in everyday activities. The court also affirmed the District Court's determination that petitioner is not "regarded as" disabled under the ADA, explaining that respondent did not terminate him on an unsubstantiated fear that he would suffer a heart attack or stroke, but because his blood pressure exceeded the DOT's requirements for commercial vehicle drivers.


1. Under the ADA, the determination of whether petitioner's impairment "substantially limits" one or more major life activities is made with reference to the mitigating measures he employs. Sutton, ante, p. 471. The Tenth Circuit concluded that, when medicated, petitioner's high blood pressure does not substantially limit him in any major life activity. Because the question whether petitioner is disabled when taking medication is not before this Court, there is no occasion here to consider whether he is "disabled" due to limitations that persist despite his medication or the negative side effects of his medication. P. 521.

2. Petitioner is not "regarded as" disabled because of his high blood pressure. Under Sutton, ante, at 489, a person is "regarded as" dis-

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