Thomas Sapeniza is planning to sue the Department of Public Works in Lawrence, Massachusetts, because the city fired him after he requested time off to comfort his terminally-ill wife Heather, who had brain cancer (video below).
Sapeniza was initially given unpaid leave from his job as a day laborer to care for Heather, but by the time of her death on Jan. 3, he had been fired by the city.
Sapienza is now being told that he did not qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act because he had not worked enough hours, reports the Daily Mail.
Lawrence City officials filled Sapienza's position with Jose Santiago, a former Massachusetts state official who has no experience as a laborer, has a suspended driver’s license and is currently in jail for violating a restraining order.
Lawrence Police Chief John Romero told Channel 7News: "They confirmed that the arrest warrant was still active and he was taken into custody. [Santiago] was brought back here to the station and was charged with violation of a restraining order."
Sapienza is preparing to file a reverse racial discrimination lawsuit with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
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Sapienza's lawyer Ellen Shimer-Brenes said: "We firmly believe that if Tom Sapienza was Hispanic and not white that he will have a job to come back to with the city of Lawrence."