'Blue Blood' Star vs. CBS

 

Does Jennifer Esposito have a legal claim against CBS for sidelining her because of complications from celiac disease? The Blue Bloods actress, 39, took to Twitter on Oct. 20 to blast the network's "absolutely shameful behavior" in putting her on an unpaid leave of absence from her role as Detective Jackie Curatola on the second-year cop drama. The autoimmune disorder causes fatigue, and according to Esposito, CBS refused to accommodate her needs during production, then kept her from working on the show or elsewhere. "CBS didn't listen to my doc and I collapsed on set," she tweeted. THR surveyed six employment attorneys, and all agreed that Esposito's allegations -- if true -- would be covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act. In the past four years, since Congress broadened the scope of the ADA, lawsuits have proliferated, notes Fox Rothschild lawyer Richard Cohen. If Esposito asserts an ADA claim, he says she'll need to show that CBS failed to engage in an "interactive process" to determine a "reasonable" accommodation for her disability. But CBS could counter that it was willing to provide her with a special trailer room, take care of her dietary needs and, within reason, reduce her time on set. Esposito likely would counter that she wasn't given enough of a reduced workload, but "that may not be possible in the context of a television show on an expensive shooting schedule that requires an important character to be all in," notes attorney Christopher Lilly at TroyGould. For its part, a CBS rep says Esposito is "unable to perform the demands of her role, and we regretfully had to put her character on a leave of absence." Her last appearance comes in the Nov. 2 episode, and she will be replaced by guest actors, though the CBS rep says the network hopes she will return.

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