Vet Sues IBM For $5 Million, Claims Net Addiction

An IBM employee fired in May 2003 for allegedly visiting an adult chat room while at work is suing the company on grounds of the American with Disabilities Act.

James Pacenza, a 58-year-old man from Montgomery, Ala., says he is an Internet addict, and this is a disability resulting from watching his best friend die in the Vietnam War.

After returning from a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, he logged onto a adult chatroom. Another employee reported finding the site after Pacenza left the computer unattended. Michael Diederich, his lawyer, said that Pacenza had never visited pornographic sites while at work; therefore, he broke no company rules.

When I first came upon the CNN article, I immediately thought, Oh no, here’s another Alabamian making our state look like a bunch of idiots. However, Net Addiction states, “Estimates suggest that five to ten percent of the population,” suffer from Internet Addiction. I might even suffer myself.

This case will bring more questions than answers. Should employers monitor the Internet use of its employees? Should “Net Addiction” be considered a disability? If it is a disability, should companies offer treatment?

There’s no definitive answer to those questions or other questions generated by this case.

One could argue that Pacenza got caught breaking the rules, and now he’s trying to find a way out of it. However, we might want to look into this whole Internet addiction thing. There might be something to it. I’m up past 2 a.m. blogging this story. Maybe I should be getting a good night’s rest instead.