The plaintiff in Shirley v. Precision Castparts was a recent, if not current, drug user. He entered a substance abuse treatment program twice and failed to complete the program, again twice. Precision Castparts had a drug free workplace policy in place. When Mr. Shirley failed to complete his substance abuse program, he was terminated.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the case. First, Mr. Shirley was not protected by the ADA because he was a current drug user. An employee who used illegal drugs in the weeks and months prior to the adverse employment action was considered to be currently using. The ADA “safe harbor” provision that protects individuals who have successfully completed drug rehab, did not apply to Mr. Shirley. It was not triggered simply because the plaintiff entered rehab. The Act protects individuals who have been “drug free for a significant period of time.”

Similarly, FMLA did not apply. Mr. Shirley violated company policy and no right to reinstatement was guaranteed in the face of that violation.