Lawrence, MA – Your wife has just tragically passed away. What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen next? Did you say “losing my job?” If so, you might be Tom Sapienza, a DPW worker who was dismissed for his long-term work absence. You know, the one he took to care for his ailing and beloved wife.
Tom and Heather Sapienza were married for eight years when Heather was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. To care for his ailing wife, Tom took all of his vacation and sick days to look after her, and after that, he started taking unpaid leave. Though his employers at the Department of Public Works initially granted Sapienza some extra time, he was denied further extensions and told that he must return to work, reports WHDH.
“Heather couldn’t even have the peace during the last 30 days of her life knowing that her husband could have a job to go back to,” said Michael Sweeney, a former elected official for the city of Lawrence.
Though Sapienza knew he was being fired from his job of maintaining a field at Lawrence High School, he never left his wife’s side, seeing her through Christmas and a few days into 2013 when she died at the age of 40. Sapienza lost his job before January 3, his wife’s last day on this mortal coil, reports The Eagle Tribune.
Sapienza’s lawyer has filed a reverse racial discrimination lawsuit with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, believing that Sapienza would have been able to keep his job if he was Hispanic instead of Caucasian.
Strangely, Sapienza’s position has already been filled by Jose Santiago, a former state representative who is actually in jail right now for violating a restraining order. Sapienza’s lawyer is crying foul because Santiago’s credentials were suspect to begin with: He has no labor experience and his driver’s license had just been revoked.
Sapienza didn’t qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act, but said that he didn’t expect to be paid for his extended leave time. All he wanted was a job to go back to after he buried his wife.
Our heart seriously goes out to this poor guy. Tom, if you’re reading this and want more of your story told, give us a shout and we’ll set up an interview.