Post-Traumatic-Internet-Addiction Claim is Back in the News

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Not sure why this story is popping up again right now — it may be that the report last December was of a threatened lawsuit, and now it’s actually been filed, but you know what?  It doesn’t matter.

Because James Pacenza is still claiming that he was wrongfully fired from his job at IBM for (allegedly) visiting an Internet adult chat room at work, on the grounds that he has an addiction caused by Vietnam-related-post-traumatic-stress disorder.  Pacenza says he was subjected to extreme stress while on patrol in 1969 (which may be true), and that his PTSD is relieved only by visiting Internet adult chat rooms (which is less likely to be true).  That is, Pacenza is arguing that he should not have been fired because IBM has a duty to accommodate this disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

According to the complaint, filed in federal court in New York, Pacenza alleges that his PTSD caused him to become, at some unspecified date, a sex addict, and "with the development of the Internet, an Internet addict."  (He has not yet added Al Gore as a defendant, but there is still time.)  Pacenza said in court papers, "I felt I needed the interactive engagement of chat talk to divert my attention from my thoughts of Vietnam and death."  IBM seems to think he was using it to divert his attention from the thoughts he was getting paid to think, or at least from the silicon wafers he was getting paid to measure.

Pacenza doesn’t deny the chatting (which is wise, since another employee saw it when Pacenza forgot to log off), but he says workers who have other types of addictions are given treatment instead of being fired, an opportunity he was not given.  IBM has said it will be seeking summary judgment next month.

Link: AP via