Celiac.com 10/30/2012 - Many celiac sufferers have stories of discrimination and/or ignorance from coworkers, peers and employers but none have been quite as high profile as the current dispute between actress Jennifer Esposito and CBS. Esposito, a sufferer of celiac disease, plays one of the main characters in the CBS drama 'Blue Bloods'. After Esposito requested a reduced schedule to manage her condition, CBS took steps that have Esposito, her fans, and celiac sufferers everywhere rallying to her cause.
In a statement released over the weekend, CBS seems to suggest that it has more to do with the demands of the role than the disease: “Jennifer has informed us that she is only available to work a very limited part-time schedule. As a result, she's unable to perform the demands of her role and we regretfully had to put her character on a leave of absence.”
Esposito claims that they have done much more than put her character on leave of absence: “CBS put me on unpaid leave and has blocked me from working anywhere else after my doctor said you needed a reduced schedule due to Celiac.” According to Esposito, it has been two months since the incident and Esposito still hasn't been invited back to the show. She also claims that CBS rejected her recent attempts to reopen negotiations.
It seems unlikely that there was no possibility of compromise here, and CBS's actions come across as both excessive and insensitive. It is not uncommon for sufferers of celiac disease to face accusations of hypochondria, so Esposito's struggle with CBS could be seen as having symbolic significance. She speaks for many when she says “truly a very sad day when you can be bullied at my age with a disease”.