IBM is being sued in the US for $5-million for unfair dismissal by an employee it fired for visiting adult chat rooms during working hours.
According to News 24, James Pacenza claims he is an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal.
He says he visits chat rooms as treatment for traumatic stress [disorder] incurred in 1969 when he saw his best friend killed during the Vietnam War.
In papers, Pacenza says the stress caused him to become "a sex addict, and with the development of the Internet, an Internet addict." He is claiming protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
His lawyer, Michael Diederich, says Pacenza never visited pornographic sites at work, violated no written IBM rule and did not surf the internet any more or any differently that other employees.
He also says age discrimination contributed to IBM's actions. Pacenza, 55 at the time, had 19 years of IBM service and said he could have retired in one more year.
IBM has asked for a summary judgment, saying its policy against surfing to sexual sites is clear.
It also claims Pacenza was told he could lose his job after an incident four months earlier, which Pacenza denies.
"The plaintiff was discharged by IBM because he visited an Internet chat room for a sexual experience during work after he had been previously warned," the company says.
IBM also said sexual behaviour disorders are specifically excluded from the law protecting people with disabilities. It denies any age discrimination.