Man Sues IBM Over Adult Chat Room Firing

Discussion in 'Straight Adult Websites' started by Principessa, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. Principessa

    Gold Member

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    I.M.O.
    • This is disturbing, Big Brother really is everywhere!:mad:
    • Worse who is the fink who ratted him out. :mad:
    • He does not deserve to lose his pension.
    • I wouldn't be surprised if this was ageism more than anything else.
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    Man Sues IBM Over Adult Chat Room Firing

    By JIM FITZGERALD, Associated Press Writer

    document.write(getElapsed("20070219T150322Z"));Mon Feb 19, 10:03 AM
    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 during an Army patrol in Vietnam.

    In papers filed in federal court in White Plains, Pacenza said the stress caused him to become "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 Web sites is clear. It also claims Pacenza was told he could lose his job after an incident four months earlier, which Pacenza denies.

    "Plaintiff was discharged by IBM because he visited an Internet chat room for a sexual experience during work after he had been previously warned," the company said.

    IBM also said sexual behavior disorders are specifically excluded from the ADA and denied any age discrimination.

    Court papers arguing the motion for summary judgment will be exchanged next month.

    If it goes to trial, the case could affect how employers regulate Internet use that is not work-related, or how Internet overuse is categorized medically. Stanford University issued a nationwide study last year that found that up to 14 percent of computer users reported neglecting work, school, families, food and sleep to use the Internet.

    The study's director, Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, said then that he was most concerned about the numbers of people who hid their nonessential
    Internet use or used the Internet to escape a negative mood, much in the same way that alcoholics might.

    Until he was fired, Pacenza was making $65,000 a year operating a machine at a plant in East Fishkill that makes computer chips.

    Several times during the day, machine operators are idle for five to 10 minutes as the tool measures the thickness of silicon wafers.

    It was during such down time on May 28, 2003, that Pacenza logged onto a chat room from a computer at his work station.

    Diederich says Pacenza had returned that day from visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington and logged onto a site called ChatAvenue and then to an adult chat room.

    Pacenza, who has a wife and two children, said using the Internet at work was encouraged by IBM and served as "a form of self-medication" for post-traumatic stress disorder. He said he tried to stay away from chat rooms at work, but that day, "I felt I needed the interactive engagement of chat talk to divert my attention from my thoughts of Vietnam and death."

    "I was tempting myself to perhaps become involved in some titillating conversation," he said in court papers.

    Pacenza said he was called away before he got involved in any online conversation. But he apparently did not log off, and when another worker went to Pacenza's station, he saw some chat entries, including a vulgar reference to a sexual act.

    He reported his discovery to his boss, who fired Pacenza the next day.
    Pacenza says he would have understood if IBM had disciplined him for taking an unauthorized break, but firing him was too extreme.
    He argues that other workers with worse offenses were disciplined less severely _ including a couple who had sex on a desk and were transferred.

    Fred McNeese, a spokesman for Armonk-based IBM, would not comment.

    Pacenza claims the company decided on dismissal only after improperly viewing his medical records, including psychiatric treatment, following the incident.

    "In IBM management's eyes, plaintiff has an undesirable and self-professed record of psychological disability related to his Vietnam War combat experience," his papers claim.

    Diederich says IBM workers who have drug or alcohol problems are placed in programs to help them, and Pacenza should have been offered the same. Instead, he says, Pacenza was told there were no programs for sex addiction or other psychological illnesses. He said Pacenza was also denied an appeal.

    Diederich, who said he spent a year in Iraq as an Army lawyer, also argued that "A military combat veteran, if anyone, should be afforded a second chance, the benefit of doubt and afforded reasonable accommodation for combat-related disability."
     
  2. B_Leatherboy

    B_Leatherboy New Member

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    Keep the sex stuff at home. Leave it at home. Unless you bring your own laptop to work, don't do ANYTHING on the internet, especially an adult site.
    :mad:
     
  3. D_Bob_Crotchitch

    D_Bob_Crotchitch New Member

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    I work at the post office. They can tell at any given time of the day what you are doing. I only log into postal stuff.
     
  4. mindseye

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    The guy was on the clock. Most employers are leery of letting their computers be used to connect to adult sites -- not just because such behavior seems "inappropriate", but because adult sites are teeming with viruses and spyware, and IBM has a legitimate interest in protecting its intellectual property from snoopers.

    They warned him, and he continued to put their computers at risk. He calls his surfing a "form of self-medication", but that's a cop-out. If his stress and addiction are so severe that he knowingly jeopardizes his career, he requires legitimate medical attention and not misguided self-therapy.
     
  5. Sklar

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    What a load of crap.

    This ISN'T Big Brother. Big Brother refers to the Federal Government. This is a private company where an employee broke the rules and got caught.

    As for him being a Vietnam Veteran suffering from PTSD, that's just an excuse. The internet wasn't even invented until the 80's at the earliest. What was he doing for treatment before then?

    This sounds like another example of someone blaming someone else for their own fuck ups!
     
  6. SassySpy

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    Our intranet and internet use at work is monitored always. No one with any sense would dare use it for unauthorized access, disability or not. And under the ADA, even if "internet addiction" were recognized, the employer is only required to provide 'reasonable accomodation' for the disability, not allow otherwise restricted activity.
    I don't think he'll win this suit, personally. I would be very surprised if he did, as it would open up a beehive of activities and lawsuits that would boggle the court system.:eek:
     
  7. Gillette

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    In my veiw if the employer is paying for your time and supplying the internet access then they have final say on how both are used. Where he was disciplined previously I have little sympathy for him but I think the portions quoted will provide him with a valid defence. The portion in red is particularly damaging to IBM's case.
     
  8. Rikter8

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    yea... Load of Hokey....

    I work in the IT industry for a Major corporation.
    The corporate policies are clear.

    You can surf to business related sites, or non-adult sites.
    The minute you log into an adult site, it is logged, and how long you spend in there.
    To say that he has a sexual addiction is a total cop-out.

    Our company just fired 6 employees 2 weeks ago for passing around a pornographic image through their e-mail. Despite several warnings, verbal and written...they kept doing it.

    Then, we had another group get shit canned because they sent a racially charged joke through the e-mail...and Oops..pulled the wrong John Doe.
    Well turns out John Doe was black, and was highly raged at the joke.

    Work is for work. Sending sexually charged or related jokes just isn't worth your job.
     
  9. HazelGod

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    Total crock of crap.

    I happen to work for the big blue behemoth, and while I have my share of beef with management and operations, I will say that they take really good care of us in the whole. I checked out our internal portal after reading this article and found out that not only is psych care covered, all company employees have access to benefits through our Employee Assistance Program...including up to 8 completely free sessions with a therapist or counselor per year. Further sessions cost $15 per. This even includes people who don't opt for any sponsored medical insurance plan...so his assertion that provisions aren't made for persons with mental health issues is preposterous.

    Furthermore, every January all employees must certify that we have read and understood the company's business conduct guidelines...which encompasses HR issues and appropriate use of company assets, including the PCs they give us and our internet access. Adult sites, gambling, and others are specifically called out as verboten on company time. So this guy knew damn well what he was doing could get him canned. Cry me a river, pal.
     
  10. SpoiledPrincess

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    He was at work, being paid for being there, he should have been working.
     
  11. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    The Devil in Miss Jones made me do it.
     
  12. jakeatolla

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    Gee his lawyer must have a very interesting imagination.
    Surfing the internet to relieve post traumatic stress syndrome.
    What a load of shit.
    People will sue over anything, and of course, not take
    responsibility for their own actions.
     
  13. CardiffDillon

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    Only in America.....
     
  14. DC_DEEP

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    I think employers (both privte industry and government) have a right and an obligation to prevent abuses. When I was working for "The State," I was warned during orientation (and later by one of the IT guys with whom I was friendly) that the computers and the access lines are state property, and can and will be monitored. So even with your own laptop, if you used university LAN or phone lines to access a website, it was subject to surveillance.

    Not to mention that I resent government employees who spend more time surfing than working, but still get salary out of taxes I pay. Ditto if I were an IBM shareholder. If I really wanted to pay someone for surfing the net, I would just walk around, door to door, and tell perfect strangers "Here, please take this fifty bucks and surf some porn sites."
     
  15. Deno

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    I totally agree, no excuse is good enough to be surfing a porn site durinng working hours. But if it was just a chat room and other chat rooms are allowed then there might be a legal standing for his defense. 19 years should mean somthing, veteran should mean something. IBM would be smart to just ban any non business use of there computers and internet and not have the policy filled with ifs, ands, and buts.
     
  16. ThickAZGuy

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    He also had a cup of hot coffee in his hands at the time- and was startled upon being busted. He burned his hand, quickly jumped up from the shock of the burn and slipped in the coffee puddle, thereby dislocating his hip. Two of his fellow employees saw this and laughed in his presence, causing him extreme embarassment and humiliation.

    Move forward 3 years! He is now CEO of IBM and spends his time full time online dealing with his 'military induced' situation.

    Ahhh - The circle of life!!!
     
  17. Fireballs

    Fireballs New Member

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    Please, man, stop right there.
    You might give him ideas,
    which would be awful.
     
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