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Sterling Employment Law

Following up on CBS' possible ABA violation regarding Jennifer Esposito

In an earlier post, we told Detroit readers about how actress Jennifer Esposito was placed on leave from her TV show "Blue Bloods" after requesting a reduced work schedule because of complications from celiac disease.

It is possible that being placed on paid leave violated Esposito's employee rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act, the federal law that is meant to protect workers who have illnesses or disabilities.

At the time we wrote that post, Esposito had not discussed the situation too much, but she opened up about it in a recent interview.

According to Esposito, she collapsed twice on the set of "Blue Bloods" because she was exhausted. Exhaustion is one side effect of celiac disease, a condition in which the body cannot handle gluten, the protein found in wheat flour.

After that incident, Esposito requested to work only two or three days a week, but she was put on unpaid leave instead. The actress said she understood that CBS Television had a job that needed to get done, but said the way the studio handled her request amounted to "ugliness."

Esposito is still under contract, so she cannot pursue other employment opportunities on network TV while she is on leave.

CBS has still not commented extensively on Esposito's situation.

At issue here is how CBS responded to Esposito's request for a reduced work schedule. Employers must make "reasonable accommodations" for people with medical needs or disabilities. If CBS really did just place her on leave without making any concessions, then it's possible it violated the ADA.

Source: TV Guide, "Blue Bloods' Jennifer Esposito Opens Up About 'Ugliness' with CBS Over Suspension," Kate Stanhope, Nov. 18, 2012

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