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By suspending Jennifer Esposito, did CBS violate the ADA?

Have you ever seen the show "Blue Bloods"? It's one of CBS' more popular adult dramas, so it's likely to have more than a few fans here in Houston.

But Texas fans of the show are likely to notice that one of its stars, Jennifer Esposito, will be missing from upcoming episodes soon. That's because Esposito has been placed on leave after requesting a reduced work schedule so she could cope with complications stemming from celiac disease -- a move that may have violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.

In a recent interview, Esposito said she asked CBS to reduce her schedule to two or three days per week because she was suffering from exhaustion, a side effect of celiac disease. She claims her request was denied and one day, as she was trying to keep up with the normal workload, she collapsed twice on set. That's when CBS put her on leave and decided to write her character out of the show, at least temporarily.

Esposito said she understood that CBS needed someone to do her job, but said its unwillingness to accommodate her was "ugliness."

And she might be right.

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, employers must generally make "reasonable" accommodations for employees who are coping with illnesses or disabilities. CBS has not commented extensively on Esposito's claims, so without knowing the full story, we cannot say for sure whether the Americans With Disabilities Act was indeed violated. However, it certainly seems like a situation that merits close scrutiny.

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

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