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"Internet Addict" Sues IBM

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"Internet Addict" Sues IBM

Postby Omaha Red Sox » Wed Feb 21, 2007 6:50 pm

'Internet Addict' Sues IBM for $5 Million

Man sues IBM for firing him because he visited an adult chat room at work, says he is 'Internet addict.'

Zoe Mutter, PC Advisor

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 09:00 AM PST

A man is suing IBM for US$5 million after he was sacked by the company for visiting an adult chat room during work time.

James Pacenza said the company failed to treat him with sympathy and respect and claims he visits chat rooms as treatment after he witnessed his friend killed during the Vietnam War. Claiming protection under the American with Disabilities Act he says the stress caused by the incident led to him first becoming a sex addict and then an internet addict. Pacenza also says the company failed to inspect his medical records properly, which include details of psychiatric treatment he received.

Pacenza’s lawyer, Michael Diedrich, says his client did not violate IBM rules by visiting pornographic sites at work. He also states that age discrimination may have been a factor, mentioning that Pacenza had been at the company for 19 years and was due to retire in a year. IBM has denied any age discrimination was involved. Diedrich says Pacenza should have been treated in the same way as employees with alcohol or drug addictions, who are offered recovery programs by IBM.

Pacenza’s job involved operating machines that made computer chips. There were often periods of five to ten minutes when the machine was working and he had nothing to do. This was when he visited the chat sites. On the day he was fired, Pacenza had returned from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and logged onto a site called ChatAvenue and then an adult chat room. Pacenza says other employees of the company have received less severe punishments for worse acts.

IBM claims that Pacenza had received a warning four months earlier for a similar incident and is asking Judge Stephen Robinson for a summary judgement, saying that the company’s rules are clear.
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Postby acsguitar » Wed Feb 21, 2007 7:31 pm

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I'm too lazy to make a sig at the moment
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Postby sportsaddict » Wed Feb 21, 2007 7:34 pm

If this guy wins this lawsuit, it sends a message to every single company in America that its ok to look at porn at work, as long as you blame it on being an internet addict.

I can just envision it now:

Cafe member caught on the Cafe. Fired for being off task, and blames it on being an internet addict. Maybe its not so bad after all? ;-D
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Postby Dan Lambskin » Wed Feb 21, 2007 8:14 pm

sportsaddict wrote:If this guy wins this lawsuit, it sends a message to every single company in America that its ok to look at porn at work, as long as you blame it on being an internet addict.

I can just envision it now:

Cafe member caught on the Cafe. Fired for being off task, and blames it on being an internet addict. Maybe its not so bad after all? ;-D


that's what i was thinking
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Postby Madison » Wed Feb 21, 2007 8:15 pm

sportsaddict wrote:its ok to look at porn at work, as long as you blame it on being an internet addict.


Agreed. There are way way way too many excuses out there for people simply not having enough self control nowadays. :-/


However, it does sound like he might have been fired due to the upcoming retirement. Rather than let him retire in a year and pay him for it, they fired him. Hard to say if that's the case, but it does say in the article that people have gotten away with worse, so it does leave that possibility out there. :-?
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Postby luckygehrig » Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:56 pm

You bring up a good point Mad, but if the guy has been warned about this sort of stuff before and continued to do it, I'm sure that he would be fired the next time he was caught regardless of proximity to retirement. I think the guy's stretching here. He got fired for trying to get on some naughty websites and work and now he doesn't want to take responsibility and still be eligible for retirement. If IBM thought that they were wrong here at all, they probably would have settled with him and let him voluntarily resign or something. This guy's gonna lose.
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Postby Madison » Thu Feb 22, 2007 11:04 am

luckygehrig wrote:You bring up a good point Mad, but if the guy has been warned about this sort of stuff before and continued to do it, I'm sure that he would be fired the next time he was caught regardless of proximity to retirement. I think the guy's stretching here. He got fired for trying to get on some naughty websites and work and now he doesn't want to take responsibility and still be eligible for retirement. If IBM thought that they were wrong here at all, they probably would have settled with him and let him voluntarily resign or something. This guy's gonna lose.


I agree. If he was already warned for it, and according to IBM he was, then he deserves to be fired and won't see a penny.

If he wasn't warned and people have gotten away with more without being fired, then I believe IBM should pay the retirement since it does appear that could be the case. Again, IF he wasn't already warned, which IBM says he was.

Seems to be a he said/she said situation. If he's relying on the "addict" part, then I hope the judge slaps him, laughs at him, makes him pay all court costs, and tells him to learn self control. :-b
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Postby Fireball Express » Thu Feb 22, 2007 11:20 am

I'm willing to bet that this guy gets something out of this deal.
I doubt that it goes to court. I could see them settling for a cool million.
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Postby knapplc » Thu Feb 22, 2007 11:58 am

Fireball Express wrote:I'm willing to bet that this guy gets something out of this deal.
I doubt that it goes to court. I could see them settling for a cool million.


:-b


You've been watching too much TV. NO WAY does this company give this guy $100, let alone one million. IBM is completely in the right here. They are an employer in an at-will state and they can fire him if they don't like the color of his shoelaces, let alone for browsing porn on the job.

Here's the response I made over on the Light Side:

knapplc wrote:
lmcjaho wrote:I guess I am the only one with the possibly dissenting opinion that maybe the guy has a case?

IF he can prove that the company rules don't prohibit that sort of thing, that there have been others who have received lesser punishments for similar offenses recently, that his work did not suffer (since apparently he had "dead air" time to work with) or any of a dozen other points that could make it look like a personal vendetta or age-discrimination type attack then I think he should have his day in court and they should have to pay him if the judge (and jury?) agrees with him.

Just because you and I don't think an adult chat site is appropriate for at work surfing doesn't mean the company has the right to use that as an excuse to dump an employee who has been with them for 19 years...



I get calls like this every day at my job. Someone did something wrong and the company fired them. They’ve been working there for X number of years and “how can they take away MY job like that?” The answer is, it’s not THEIR job. It’s the company’s job. They can do what they want with their job whenever they see fit, because it’s at-will employment.

At-will employment means that we work at the will of our employer. At any time and for any reason they can hire us, fire us, promote or demote us, change our hours, change our wage, whatever. They can tell the company president that tomorrow he’s the janitor and he’s making minimum wage. Perfectly legal. It is their job. They can treat it however they wish.

There are exceptions to at-will terminations. Predominantly those exceptions deal with discriminatory firings, or firings occurring because of a person’s age (if they’re over 40), race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, marital status, pregnancy and/or retaliation. Now, simply because you happen to fall under one or more of these categories means nothing. Every single person with a pulse falls under a minimum of six of these categories, but simply being in one of these protected groups is irrelevant. You, the person filing the discrimination charge, must show some kind of evidence that the discriminatory factor you choose is in fact the reason the employer fired you, and not any other legitimate reason.

To speak about this person in particular, the fact of the matter is that he was fired for a wholly legitimate reason. It is NOT acceptable workplace behavior to browse porn chat rooms. The company does not have to have a specific policy against this. It’s common sense, for goodness’ sake! This man is not a child and he does not have to have everything spelled out for him like a child. This kind of allegation has little or no chance of seeing any kind of recompense.

I’ll go into the technical reasons why if you really need me to, but if you would, just trust me on this. I see stuff like this every day. 99.9% of them go nowhere.
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Postby Fireball Express » Thu Feb 22, 2007 12:19 pm

knapplc wrote:
Fireball Express wrote:I'm willing to bet that this guy gets something out of this deal.
I doubt that it goes to court. I could see them settling for a cool million.


:-b


You've been watching too much TV. NO WAY does this company give this guy $100, let alone one million. IBM is completely in the right here. They are an employer in an at-will state and they can fire him if they don't like the color of his shoelaces, let alone for browsing porn on the job.

Here's the response I made over on the Light Side:

knapplc wrote:
lmcjaho wrote:I guess I am the only one with the possibly dissenting opinion that maybe the guy has a case?

IF he can prove that the company rules don't prohibit that sort of thing, that there have been others who have received lesser punishments for similar offenses recently, that his work did not suffer (since apparently he had "dead air" time to work with) or any of a dozen other points that could make it look like a personal vendetta or age-discrimination type attack then I think he should have his day in court and they should have to pay him if the judge (and jury?) agrees with him.

Just because you and I don't think an adult chat site is appropriate for at work surfing doesn't mean the company has the right to use that as an excuse to dump an employee who has been with them for 19 years...



I get calls like this every day at my job. Someone did something wrong and the company fired them. They’ve been working there for X number of years and “how can they take away MY job like that?” The answer is, it’s not THEIR job. It’s the company’s job. They can do what they want with their job whenever they see fit, because it’s at-will employment.

At-will employment means that we work at the will of our employer. At any time and for any reason they can hire us, fire us, promote or demote us, change our hours, change our wage, whatever. They can tell the company president that tomorrow he’s the janitor and he’s making minimum wage. Perfectly legal. It is their job. They can treat it however they wish.

There are exceptions to at-will terminations. Predominantly those exceptions deal with discriminatory firings, or firings occurring because of a person’s age (if they’re over 40), race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, marital status, pregnancy and/or retaliation. Now, simply because you happen to fall under one or more of these categories means nothing. Every single person with a pulse falls under a minimum of six of these categories, but simply being in one of these protected groups is irrelevant. You, the person filing the discrimination charge, must show some kind of evidence that the discriminatory factor you choose is in fact the reason the employer fired you, and not any other legitimate reason.

To speak about this person in particular, the fact of the matter is that he was fired for a wholly legitimate reason. It is NOT acceptable workplace behavior to browse porn chat rooms. The company does not have to have a specific policy against this. It’s common sense, for goodness’ sake! This man is not a child and he does not have to have everything spelled out for him like a child. This kind of allegation has little or no chance of seeing any kind of recompense.

I’ll go into the technical reasons why if you really need me to, but if you would, just trust me on this. I see stuff like this every day. 99.9% of them go nowhere.


Hey if it's your area of expertise then you should know. However, I think the fact that he was 1 year away from retirement could come into play. I wonder if we'll ever find out what happens.
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