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CBS Forces Celiac 'Blue Bloods' Actress to Take Leave of Absence

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.

The apparent point of contention between CBS and Esposito is the idea that celiac disease warrants special treatment (or perhaps that Esposito even has it). After the actress collapsed on set two months ago, her doctor recommended a significantly reduced work schedule. CBS was unwilling to comply, and evidently skeptical that there was ever anything wrong with the actress. According to Esposito, “CBS implied that I was not truly ill and this was a scheme to get a raise!”

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.”

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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”.

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14 Responses:

 
Donnie
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
30 Oct 2012 11:02:40 AM PDT
CBS has mistreated stars who developed serious illnesses before. They treated Michael Zaslow horribly when he was diagnosed with Lou Gerhig's disease. Michael played the role of Roger Thorpe on Guilding Light. CBS honchos said terrible things about him after they got rid of him. Fans were outraged at the awful treatment of Michael when he had a terminal illness. I have celiac disease, and I certainly know that it is very serious. CBS should be totally ashamed of the way they have treated Jennifer, but I'm sure they couldn't care less. I don't watch Blue Bloods anymore. I don't like it.

 
chotocali
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said this on
05 Nov 2012 10:47:05 AM PDT
This is happening to me in my job, too. I hope this sets a precedent that can help me in my struggle. People say the worst things to me, and HR isn't doing anything about it. Everyone gets free meals, and I eat alone everyday.

 
Barb
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said this on
05 Nov 2012 2:34:46 PM PDT
I know how you feel. I have been discriminated against in one way or another since I was a child. (I had celiac disease then, but did not know it.) I even now get told it is in my head, or it is this and that. My son has it, and he is in full denial about it. I no longer talk to them about it any more. Most don't want to give up their comfort foods.

 
maverita
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said this on
05 Nov 2012 1:13:25 PM PDT
I finally had to start my own business in order to find a boss who understands.

 
Wendy
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said this on
11 Mar 2013 7:40:46 PM PDT
So did I. I used to substitute and can no longer to do this. Now I work with my husband, who is much more understanding than any boss.

 
Rich
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said this on
05 Nov 2012 1:34:36 PM PDT
We need more of this type of poor treatment by "employers" to be made public more often. I work for the AARP Foundation, who is funded in part by the US Department of Labor. I have celiac disease and neuropathy problems. I requested some reduced hours so I could go for physical therapy. As soon as I asked my employer they immediately suspended me for 60 days without pay "BEFORE" I even started my physical therapy. I can't go back to work, period, unless the doctor gives me a letter stating I am able to go back to work. The physical therapy is for my legs and feet. My AARP job is to sit at a computer all day and input information. What does one have to do with the other?

 
dappy
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said this on
06 Nov 2012 9:41:05 AM PDT
I am going to be Devil's Advocate here. If she is that ill as not to be able to fulfill the shooting requirements, then she should step down. We see people with celiac disease in almost all, if not all positions today: entertainment, athletes, routine jobs. They are performing and controlling their disease while doing it. Even though I am now retired, I did not miss work or ask for a reduced schedule due to the disease - you manage it along with your physician.

 
Radar
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said this on
07 Nov 2012 11:59:00 AM PDT
I agree with you. I don't understand why she is blaming celiac disease on her inability to do her job. I have celiac disease and maintain a gluten-free diet... I'm healthy as a horse and haven't missed a beat.

 
Debbie
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said this on
12 Nov 2012 2:54:49 PM PDT
I beg to differ with you and "dappy". If you have gone through a long period without getting a correct diagnosis, you can be quite ill and it can take some time to get used to the gluten-free diet and regain some health and strength. Any company should work with the employee with a reduced schedule if suggested by a physician while the employee regains strength and can return to a regular schedule. This is what sick leave/leaves of absence/PTO is for. I think it is reasonable for CBS to suggest a leave of absence if needed to regain her strength. However, they should honor this, and allow her to return if she is improved and can do her job. Television shows can have smaller parts for a character for a specified time period, and the character of Jackie could appear on a limited basis until Jennifer improves. After being on a gluten-free diet for a few months, I (who had lost about 15 pounds over a month period when things became critical in 1975 - going from 90 to 75 pounds) noticed a huge difference as soon as I went on a gluten-free diet. I was much improved after only a few months, but I really needed those months to gradually get back to full energy level, even though I kept working full time as a school librarian. The teachers, administration, and kids understood, as it seems CBS does not, even though in 1975, hardly anyone had ever heard of celiac disease!

 
barb
Rating: ratingfullratingemptyratingemptyratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
04 Dec 2012 9:03:56 PM PDT
You are lucky. Not all of us are as lucky as you are.

 
pgrant
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said this on
12 Nov 2012 3:36:34 PM PDT
Obviously this individual didn't have as serious of a condition as Jennifer. I have the disease (diagnosed 3 years ago) after being misdiagnosed for over 30 years. Good for you that you were able to live your life without serious ramifications. You certainly don't understand the disease fully, and the effect that an autoimmune disease has on one's life. For supposedly having celiac disease, you sure are judgmental and non-supportive of others who struggle with it!

 
Dot
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said this on
06 Nov 2012 12:28:50 PM PDT
Blue Bloods has been my favorite show since its debut. CBS is also the network I watch the most, other than PBS. I hope this is resolved in a fair way, or I will be forced to give up both the show and the network. I have never done this before, but I feel very strongly about this.

 
Coloradosue
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said this on
06 Nov 2012 1:46:23 PM PDT
This surely falls under the Americans With Disabilities Act. This is blatant discrimination against an obvious disability. Hopefully, her attorney is filing court papers on her behalf. Jen wants to work just like the rest of us CD'ers, and they should give her her job back. I have been boycotting this show since Jen went public with her fight. If necessary, I will also boycott any companies that have ads on this show as well. This is just disgusting!

 
Chellw
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said this on
12 Nov 2012 12:51:15 PM PDT
I really feel for her. As someone who has had a lot of health related issues with celiac, there are many jobs that I would not consider doing because I don't have the energy. While I think CBS could have done more to work with Jennifer - the acting field is not known for its low stress environment. If she can't keep up with the work load, then it is not worth jeopardizing her health.




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Check out this page and the advice on rice prep: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2F1MDzyW55pg97Tdpp7gqLN/should-i-be-concerned-about-arsenic-in-my-rice

Hi Rachel and welcome I think you've found the single best site on the web for help and advice. Hope it's of use to you. I tested negative for celiac so no referral. My experience with NHS however suggests it could be worth phoning your Gastro's office and asking the admin staff there to check on this. Things get overlooked... I would avoid anything with those warnings on. It's a pain in the arse because, for example, it recently appeared on a brand of nuts I like. However having some experience of production and marketing environments that warning will only be going on the pack if someone in the company thinks there's a chance of contamination. There's always other products to choose from so I don't take the chance. Walkers crisps have given me a reaction, yes even the sodding ready salted ones It's something to do with their production processes. I think Gary Lineker may dance through the factory each week spreading handfuls of flour for good luck. Whatever, I now avoid them. My energy levels improved over a few months after the diet. It took longer the second time after my challenge. I was still noticing improvements / weird resolutions of odd symptoms up to 9 months to a year later... Lots of good advice here: All the best! Matt

Ah.... Settles back, dons funny hat, smokes pipe, plays violin, injects heroin etc... I think you need to treat yourself as your own science experiment. If you're ok at home with all of the drinks then you can almost certainly rule out alcohol intolerance and thank your bodies burgeoning super coeliac powers of gluten detection for the reaction. Clearly your powers have grown in the past five years young jedi... In which case maybe there's a drink you can order which would reduce this risk, maybe asking for the bottle and a clean glass, forgoing ice, straws etc, anything to simplify matters and reduce the number of contaminant variables. One thing I'd avoid would be 'mixers' from the shared line. Not because there's gluten filled drinks going through them, typically its just coke, lemonade and soda water, but because the nozzle sometimes dips into the drink that's being filled. Paranoid? Maybe, but I avoid them now and pay the extra for a bottle. A word on glasses. Most bars have a dedicated glass washer and they're good, to a point. I've worked behind a bar in the past and the washers are only on for a very short time, they can run up to 35 times an hour... I've seen lipstick on glasses from them and whilst the chances of contamination are probably slight... Now if you're out for a night at different places, it will be very hard to work out where its happening. So my suggestion is to go out to one bar only and pick a decent one. Speak to a bartender or manager, explain to them just what a special snowflake you are and get one definitely clean glass at the outset then keep it for the evening and just get it refilled. Pick one drink only and stick to it. I'd suggest wine as maybe its easier on the stomach than the bubbly prosecco and you can get the little bottles without any chance of contamination but that may be nonsense See what happens... If you're ok, then you have an answer. You've become more sensitive and your reacting to trace gluten. *removes funny hat, discards pipe, hides syringe...

This seems odd. No SIGNIFICANT villous blunting. Was there mild villous blunting? Increased intraepithelial lymphocytes?

Ugg, tell me about I thought I had bad gut bacteria for years. Carbs would just make be bloat and distend, sugars, rice, any kind of grain. Figured out in Feb, it was UC and that the sugars in carbs caused flare ups....I realize I am blessed I can nuts, I eat nut based breads, muffins, cakes etc, using stevia, monk fruit, and xylitol for sweeteners since they do not trigger the flare ups. >.> I am also addicted eating sugar free jams made with extracts, and a universal pectin that reacts with calcium water instead of sugar so I can use monk fruit to sweeten. (Cheaper to make this for my fruit cravings to buying sugar free jams) I also found a noodle by miracle noodles that is carb free they also make a rice sub...I use them in recreating dishes I used to eat all the time. NOTE the fiber in them is not tolerable to some people. But might look into it as a alternative. I think I did a post not to long ago about different forms of noodles and how to make them or get them for those with similar issues one of hte more intiruging ones is using eggs or egg whites mixed up and cooked on low eat in a pan into a thin sheet then cutting into noodles or using nordic wear microwave plates to make them. .....I recently found you can mix konjac flour, eggwhites, and hemp protein, up pour into one of those plates and cook into a tortilla. check my profile for my food issues lol list is huge, at least you can eat meats?