WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A man who was fired by IBM for visiting an adult chat room at work is suing the company for $5 million, claiming he is an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal.
James Pacenza, 58, of Montgomery, says he visits chat rooms to treat traumatic stress incurred in 1969 when he saw his best friend killed in Vietnam.
In papers filed in federal court in White Plains, Pacenza said stress made him "a sex addict, and with the development of the Internet, an Internet addict." He claimed protection under the American 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 than other employees. He also says age discrimination contributed to IBM's actions. Pacenza, 55 at the time, had been with the company for 19 years and says he could have retired in a year.
International Business Machines Corp. has asked Judge Stephen Robinson for a summary judgment, saying its policy against surfing sexual websites is clear. It also claims Pacenza was told he could lose his job after an incident four months earlier, which Pacenza denies.
IBM also said sexual behavior disorders are specifically excluded from the ADA and denied any age discrimination.