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Star of 'Blue Bloods' illegally sidelined due to medical condition?

Federal law protects employees with disabilities from unjust employment discrimination. Under the law, a disability can be characterized as an injury, a medical condition one has had since birth, an illness and even pregnancy in certain situations. As a result, it is little wonder that Hollywood is buzzing about whether 'Blue Bloods' star Jennifer Esposito will file an Americans with Disabilities Act employment law claim against CBS for its alleged discrimination against her.

According to Esposito, the actress was put on an unpaid leave of absence from the hit drama due to complications from celiac disease. CBS allegedly refused to reasonably accommodate Esposito's condition, which can cause extreme fatigue. She recently tweeted that "CBS didn't listen to my doc and I collapsed on set."

What makes this situation even more problematic is that due to contractual obligations, Esposito has been forced into unpaid leave but she cannot take other work at this time.

Under the ADA, employers are required to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities. If CBS did indeed fail to accommodate Esposito for her confirmed condition, she may have a legitimate and high-profile case against an uncooperative employer.

What becomes challenging is when an employer attempts to accommodate an employee but does not go far enough in these efforts. At that point, it becomes a more difficult case to unravel. Say, for example, that CBS altered Esposito's trailer and took care of her dietary needs, but did not allow her enough time to rest while shooting. Would that qualify as discrimination under the ADA?

These speculations highlight the fact that ADA claims are complicated, but most are nevertheless legitimate. If Esposito was a victim of employment discrimination, hopefully she will either be put back to work or released from her contract and compensated appropriately.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Does Sidelined 'Blue Bloods' Star Jennifer Esposito Have a Case Against CBS? (Analysis)" Eriq Gardner, Oct. 24, 2012

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