Employee Sues After “Chat-Room Addiction” Not Accommodated

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A former IBM employee has sued the company after he was fired for inappropriate use of the Internet during work hours.  (It wasn’t for reading blogs, not that you would do that during the workday.)  James Pacenza admitted that he spent time in chat rooms while he was supposed to be working, but said he did so only because he is "addicted to chat rooms," and he argued that IBM wrongfully terminated him rather than offer him a treatment program for his addiction.

Pacenza alleges that his chat-room participation is a form of "self medication" for post-traumatic stress disorder that he suffered in Vietnam.  He’s seeking $5 million in damages.  IBM said it was never informed that Pacenza had this specific condition, and noted that the chat-room messages that led to his firing "included references to a sex act."

In October, the Stanford University School of Medicine released a study in which it concluded that one out of every eight Americans showed signs of possible Internet addiction.  The news report of this story didn’t say what those signs might be.  If I spend time hunting for it, am I addicted to the Internet?  Guess I won’t know until I read the study.  "We need to consider the fact," said the study’s lead author, "that [the Internet] creates real problems for a subset of people."

Link: InformationWeek