CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An American Airlines worker is fighting for his job back. He says he switched to the popular Keto diet and that it ended up costing him his job.
“I don’t want to be punished and take consequences for something that I didn’t do. That’s like admitting to a crime or going to jail even though I didn’t do it,” said Andrew Riley.
Riley is now in the fight of his life as he takes on the Department of Transportation and American Airlines to get his job back.
“Once they forward it to the Department of Transportation you’re basically banned from being a flight attendant,” he said.
Riley had been a flight attendant with American Airlines since 2012 until he was fired last year. He says it’s because he blew a .05 on a breathalyzer.
“I wasn’t drinking. I wasn’t doing anything, just because I changed my diet,” he said.
Riley believes he blew a false-positive because of the Keto diet.
Doctor Ryan Lowery with Ketogenics.com says the diet change can impact the way your body breaks down food causing incorrect test results.
“With acetone and it will get released as isopropyl alcohol and some devices aren’t able to differentiate between isopropyl and ethanol,” Lowery said.
Andre first failed a breath test in 2013. That time it was alcohol.
The Department of Transportation’s flight attendant rights and responsibilities says a second failed test will result in permanent disqualification.
“The policies need to be revisited as things like the Keto diet come out which may lead to people having false-positive test results,” lawyer Chris Adkins said.
Riley says this time is different from the first and he’s going to fight to clear his name and get his job back.
“I’m embarrassed but I’m also encouraged. I don’t know if someone else may be going through the Jared Disease Autobureau Syndrome,” Riley said. “Maybe they don’t have the means to fight or the drive to, but it’s my duty to put this out here and get results.”
Riley says it’s time for a new test given the chance for a false-positive.
“I want them to use a more accurate test if someone is giving you a reason why this could possibly happen,” he said.
Dr. Lowery agrees, saying he hopes nothing like this happens to anyone else in the future.
“The number of people being in a state of ketosis is rapidly growing and I would hate for someone to go through something similar.”