Vietnam vet says he was fired for chat room addiction

IBM worker says employer should have accommodated, treated his illness

A Vietnam vet who was fired from his job at IBM for spending time in online chat rooms during working hours is suing, claiming the computer giant didn’t accommodate and help treat his addiction.

According to an article in InformationWeek, James Pacenza said he was addicted to chat rooms and that IBM should have offered him counselling. In a lawsuit, Pacenza argued that workers with much more severe problems — such as drug or alcohol abuse — are accommodated and treated by IBM.

Pacenza, who worked at an IBM research facility in East Fishkill, N.Y., argued his use of online chat rooms is a form of “self medication” he uses to treat post-traumatic stress disorder suffered as a result of his experience during the Vietnam war.

IBM, which is reportedly seeking to have the case dismissed, contends the worker was fired for visiting a site containing sexual content and the instant messages he sent and received on the site’s chat room included references to a sex act.

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