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BET Head of Original Programming Let Go While on Medical Leave

Earlier in the week, Stephen Hill, president of programming at BET Networks, announced he was stepping down, while BET said Zola Mashariki, executive VP and head of original programming, too is leaving. 

Mashariki countered in a memo to colleagues that she’s out on medical leave, fighting breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in December. Medical leave, she said in a memo to her colleagues, started Feb. 6. 

Mashariki suggested she would not be giving up her job. “My job is protected by the Family Medical Leave Act and related statutes (FMLA) and I have a contract in place. Viacom/BET are aware that I am scheduled to return on April 11 and that my medical leave may need to be extended depending on the progress of my recovery,” she said in the memo. 

She added that including her in the announcement of Hill’s departure did not match the Viacom values of honesty and empathy.   

Variety previously reported on Mashariki’s memo. 

BET said Mashariki is no longer employed at BET. "These claims misrepresent the facts and are without merit. We strongly deny any allegation of wrongdoing," said the company in a statement. 

“Our Original Programming team has accomplished a lot in a short time and the filmmakers and community are excited to work with us again,” said Mashariki. “There is so much more to do.”