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IBM Sued for Firing Alleged Internet Addict 341

Posted by Zonk
from the i-have-been-told-the-internet-is-for-porn dept.
globring sent us a link to a CNN article covering a trial with a unique defense. James Pacenza, a 58 year old Alabama man, has been fired from his position at IBM for visiting adult sites during working hours. The man is now suing the company for $5 Million, alleging that he is an internet addict. The plaintiff claims he visits these sites as a way of dealing with traumatic stress incurred in the Vietnam War. He claims that while he is addicted to sex and the internet, he never visited adult sites at work. Age-related issues, he says, are the cause of his filing. IBM, on its part, says that Pacenza was warned during a similar incident several months ago. Pacenza denies this as well.
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IBM Sued for Firing Alleged Internet Addict

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  • by BTWR (540147) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (3robignacirema)> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:21PM (#18061644) Homepage Journal
    "He claims that while he is addicted to sex and the internet, he never visited adult sites at work."

    The CNN article states that this wasn't his first warning: ""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."

    • Unique Defense? (Score:3, Interesting)

      It's more like bullshit defense. I wouldn't be surprised if IBM kept logs of their worker activities at work - if he was fired for this incident *after already having been warned once* he wasn't cheated out of his job.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Phu5ion (838043)
      Well, the servers definitely don't lie... unless he was in a position where he had access to the logs.
    • by beakerMeep (716990) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:35PM (#18061760)
      Well he denies the previous warning and I imagine the "im a victim of internet addiction" is a little bit of legal smoke and mirrors but it's not impossible for someone with PTSD. Either way though this guy was 6 months shy of retirement and with IBM's track-record of less than perfect dealings with retirees pensions, I think there is more to this story than we can gather from the CNN article. I think it would be interesting to know if someone reported him because they were bothered by what they saw on his screen or if some HR manager asked IT to troll through his internet connection logs looking for something incriminating.
      • by skoaldipper (752281) <skoalstr8@NosPAM.gmail.com> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @05:13PM (#18062008)
        Like you inferred, I believe it mainly is age discrimination here. His lawyer even cites two people making snu-snu on a desk at IBM and they were just transferred. Also, I think you're right about them trolling his station, for the simple reason that before stomping off to a manager, common decency says you (the co-worker) turn off the monitor for him and have a talk with him personally. And, as this plaintiff cites, after 19 years of service to IBM, you would think his superiors would make every effort possible to salvage this man's reputation with a paid vacation for clinical counseling. This does smack of age discrimination. It really is in IBM's interest to settle this case. I wish the Vet well.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by penguinbrat (711309)
          The argument with the couple snu-snu'ing isn't a good one since you are stopping the 'issue' by separating them, on this guy you can't solve the issue so easily because he is getting his snu-snu from the same tools he is expected to use for work. Although, at 19 years of employment and months away from retirement (don't you retire at 20yrs?) I do agree with the notion that the manager should have been more proactive, at least making it VERY clear what the out come will be if he doesn't snu-snu at his own ho
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851)
        I don't see the connection between his surfing of sexually explicit chat rooms and PTSD. It seems somewhat tenuous that there is an apparent failure to accept that some links are NSFW and others are not. The fact that there appears the ex employee was deliberately looking for those sorts of sites on company time made him a liability whether or not he had a disability. It is not usually the case that individuals are granted accommodations which could result in employer aimed sexual harassment lawsuits. Obv
      • Accoring to the article he was discovered by a fellow employee but I think questions still remain and the case isnt as open and shut (and funny) as it first appears.
      • by v1 (525388) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @07:25PM (#18062768) Homepage Journal
        While it's quite possible his age had something to do with this, it's also very likely he is guilty as charged. It would be a sensible thing for an employer to put a close eye on someone approaching retirement with pension, in the hopes that they screw up enough to justify termination, this saves the company money. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and sorry but PTSD does not justify surfing porn at work any more than forgiving turrets at mcdonalds. Crackheads are not allowed to smoke up at work just because they are crackheads. If you have a behavioral disorder you need to keep it in check while you're at work, or you need to find a different job that is known to be tolerant of your behavioral problems. I suppose another parallel we could draw is someone spending an hour a day at work on an online casino, and claiming its OK because they are a gambling addict.

        Bottom line, if you are 6 mos from retiring with pension you should know to be on your best behavior. If you walk out the door with a company stapler, i don't care if you are a recovering klepto, out you go. (I consider deliberately wasting company time to be theft)

        I hope this fellow loses his case and gets to pay IBM's attorneys.
        • by Manchot (847225) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @08:03PM (#18062988)
          This is not necessarily a bad thing

          How can that not be a bad thing? If a company is more critical of an employee months away from retirement, that is by definition age discrimination. Sorry, but saving a few bucks is not justification for prejudice in the workplace.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by geoskd (321194)

        I think it would be interesting to know if someone reported him because they were bothered by what they saw on his screen or if some HR manager asked IT to troll through his internet connection logs looking for something incriminating.

        Being a manager myself, I find it more likely that this guy has a habit of pissing off his co-workers (which is not uncommon with PTSD employees). That having been said, it wouldn't take much for one of his co-workers who was pissed off about this guy taking excessive breaks (also not uncommon with PTSD employees) who decided that enough was enough and turned the guy in. Nobody likes having to pick up the slack for a guy who is not pulling his weight, especially not one who is making $65k / year.

        -=Ge

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 18, 2007 @05:15PM (#18062014)
      This reminds me of an incident I once saw while working IT at a fairly major firm.

      One of the VPs called us into his office to report a problem with his computer. Apparently somebody had ejaculated all over his keyboard. He wanted us to get rid of the soiled keyboard, and bring him a new one. Not really being in a position to ask questions, we just did what he wanted.

      About a week later, the same VP is on the phone, telling us that there's more ejaculate on his keyboard. So we bring him a new keyboard, yet again.

      Another week or so later, we get a third call from the same VP. This time we went to the President of the firm, and reported this incident to him. He assured us he would look into it. I'm not sure exactly what the outcome was, but the VP ended up leaving his job soon after. According to some of the secretaries near his office, there was a pretty serious confrontation between him and the President of the company. One of the secretaries quoted part of the VP's yelling: "Yes, I got my sperm on the keyboard! It's because I have a fucking masturbation addition!"

    • by adisakp (705706) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @06:33PM (#18062544) Journal
      Even if he never visited adult sites at work, if it affected his ability to work, he should be terminated. If you have an alcoholic who is so affected by his drinking that he becomes unproductive, you should fire them. If they come in with a hangover every day and have zero productivity, that's wrong even if they've never had a drink at work.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Brickwall (985910)
        If you have an alcoholic who is so affected by his drinking that he becomes unproductive, you should fire them.

        Right. And if someone has cancer, and is exhausted and nauseous after receiving their chemotherapy, you should fire him too?

        Most medical professionals consider alcoholism a disease. I would expect a firm to assist the employee with treatment and support for some period of time. If the employee continues to abuse drink, it's not that difficult to set up a testing program. Long term drinkers ca

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Lord Kano (13027)
      The CNN article states that this wasn't his first warning: ""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."

      Perhaps they considered a meeting from 8 years ago about the zero-tolerance policy to be a previous warning.

      LK
  • Sigh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:23PM (#18061654)
    If people would actually take responsibility for their actions then this country might not be so bad.
  • by Kohath (38547) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:23PM (#18061658)
    IBM has been violating my rights to have a job there. Who knew?

    This has apparently been going on a long time, since I've never worked at IBM.

    I think IBM owes us all some back pay.
  • WTF? (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:24PM (#18061668) Homepage Journal
    The only way I see ANY logic in this, is if Internet Addiction is considered a disability.... which causes you to look at porn... right.

    Maybe I can get away with classifying my need to punch stupid people in the face as a disability. After all, I shouldn't be fired for that :I
    • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Erwos (553607) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:32PM (#18061736)
      I was under the impression that addiction to pornography is a real, recognized psychological problem. He could very well be telling the truth, in a way.

      Of course, either way, this guy is screwed: it's not illegal discrimination to fire someone for mental issues, especially when they affect work performance or atmosphere. The whole point of anti-discrimination laws is to stop people from firing others for stuff that doesn't affect those things.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by shmlco (594907)
        Sounds like his "logic" is that his addiction is a disability, and it is illegal to discriminate against someone solely on the basis of a disability.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nebaz (453974)
          illegal to discriminate against someone solely on the basis of a disability
          IANAL, But I can't imagine it would be against the law to discriminate against someone solely on the basis of a disability if it could be proven that it is detrimental to the job performance. Chauffers must be able to see, for example.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by evanbd (210358)

            As long as it's actually critical to the job, you're right. You can't fire (or even fail to hire) someone because they can't use the stairs into the building; but if the job description involves, for example, lifting and moving things that can't be done in a wheelchair, then someone in a wheelchair is legitimately unsuited for the job. There's also language about reasonable accommodations -- if you as an employer can make reasonable changes to the facilities, etc. then you are obligated to do so.

            One exa

      • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Lehk228 (705449) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @07:27PM (#18062774) Journal
        so is alcoholism but if i go to work drunk i would be fired.
        you can't be fired for being addicted to porno

        you can be fired for looking at porno on the job
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DocJohn (81319)
        Addiction to pornography (or the Internet) is not a recognized mental disorder, nor is there any diagnosis for it that an insurance company would reimburse you for. While the media continues hyping these things, the science and research still says these are not legitimate or recognized separate disorders.

        So this guy doesn't have a leg to stand on from the mental health standpoint. If he has PTSD, that's a separate issue, but it certainly wouldn't be a legitimate reason for viewing porn at work.

        Sounds like h
    • Well given diabilities deserve special accomidations. There is no reason IBM couldn't have just shut off of heavily filtered his internet especially if he was having trouble controlling himself and asked for help.
  • Pulease (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Oligonicella (659917) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:24PM (#18061670)
    He says he's "an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal".

    Sounds like he indeed visited during work hours or he wouldn't have had a reason at all to say this. It's IBM's system and rules. Tuff if you can't keep your hands (mental or physical) out of your pants at the job.
    • by couchslug (175151)
      The plaintiff makes veterans look bad, and as a vet he should fscking well know how to obey orders.

      As a G.I. soon to be in the civilian sector, woe betide any vet who tries to bullshit me about their problems.
      If they have PTSD I will offer to go WITH them to the local VA and make damn sure they get help. If they are lying, that'll get documented too.
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:27PM (#18061690) Homepage
    "Your Honor, IBM fired me because they failed to give me the right to watch porn rather than working while on the job." Seriously, no sane judge is going to allow that to get by the inevitable dismissal motion by IBM.
    • Not only did you misrepresent the defense of the man stated in the article (it was sexually explicit chat rooms, not pr0n) but im glad our legal system doesnt have a "if it fails the straight face test" clause.
    • by Pseudonym (62607)

      I realise that this is slashdot, and it's a bit much to ask people to read TFA, but you didn't even read the summary:

      He claims that while he is addicted to sex and the internet, he never visited adult sites at work. Age-related issues, he says, are the cause of his filing. IBM, on its part, says that Pacenza was warned during a similar incident several months ago. Pacenza denies this as well.

      Let me repeat that: He claims that he did not visit adult sites at work.

      Now it may still be a TOS violation if he

  • Blatant nitpickery (Score:5, Informative)

    by Robotech_Master (14247) * on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:30PM (#18061716) Homepage Journal
    Technically, it's not "a unique defense." Pacenza is the plaintiff, not the defendant.
  • by Cyberax (705495) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:33PM (#18061742)
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/07/29/bofh_2004_ episode_24/ [theregister.co.uk]

    "I don't actually think you CAN fire me for browsing porn.."

    "Why not?"

    "Well, I think I'm addicted to porn."

    "I beg your pardon?"

    "Addicted. To porn."

    "You're joking!"

    "Oh no. You see I'm fairly sure that the browsing of porn causes the release of testosterone, endorphins or something like that, which in turn causes a pleasure response in the body - or so my doctor will tell me if I ask. I'm addicted to that pleasure response, in much the same way as a drug addict is addicted to the pleasure they obtain from their drugs."

    "So you're saying you have no control over your actions?"

    "None."

    "And you.... Believe that this is somehow the company's problem?"

    "Oh no."

    "Good."

    "No, I think it's the company's fault. It's completely different."

    "I think you'll find that to demonstrate fault, the company would have to be aware of a problem."

    "They are. I filled out a workplace hazard form about it six months ago."
  • by goldcd (587052) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:33PM (#18061748) Homepage
    moment. It seems that the number of things that count as disabilities has become insane.
    On the current criteria, I'm slightly bemused as to why 'being thick' isn't allowed to count. It's not your fault, it puts you at a disadvantage, you can't change it etc.
    Could anybody tell me why it's OK to discriminate against people being stupid in the workplace, but it's not if the mental/physical disability has a nice name?
    • I agree. If someone is unable to do their job and unwilling to try to change, I don't think the employer should have to keep paying them. I can understand a requirement that an employer not fire an employee who is going through some legitimate form of rehab for an addiction, but if the employee isn't doing anything about their problem, the employer shouldn't have to put up with it.
    • Could anybody tell me why it's OK to discriminate against people being stupid in the workplace

      No, it is not okay to discriminate against stupid people, at least in the USA. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Griggs vs Duke Power [wikipedia.org] that people could not be hired or promoted on the basis of general intelligence.

  • Internet Addict? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nate nice (672391) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:36PM (#18061766) Journal
    Sounds like he's a sex addict! Just because he's using the Internet to fuel his obvious sex addiction doesn't make him an Internet addict. It's like saying someone who uses magazines to get their porn is a magazine addict.

    You're not addicted to the medium, you're addicted to the content.

  • by thewils (463314) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:44PM (#18061822) Journal
    Much better is where the boss sends you the porn via email so you don't go having to look for it, and also pays your green fees when it's time to go playing golf.

    If you dont have either of the above, consider seeking alternative employment.
    • by rajafarian (49150)
      That reminds me of when I worked for a national ISP and we had to test parental control software. "Hey, guys, look I can go to Persiankitty just fine!" For a whole day!
  • by phorm (591458) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:45PM (#18061832) Journal
    I think that there seems to be confusion between addiction and disability. While you might not fire somebody for a recognised disability (and some addictions tend to fall along those categories), I've never heard of having to hold on to somebody because they're addicted.

    If that were the case, it would mean that when Bobby and Johnny get caused smoking pot in the back during work hours, or when Sally gets caught with a needle in her veins in the washroom, they could claim that the company could not fire them because they were addicts. I think not.
    • by Vegeta99 (219501)
      I'm a Resident Assistant/Leasing Consultant at the student housing development I live at, and here's the Fair Housing Act standard:

      If drug use is current, they are not a protected class.
      If drug use is current, but they are enrolled in some sort of drug treatment program, they ARE a protected class, and you cannot discriminate on them.
      • On the other hand, is it not perfectly legal to consider someone in breach of their lease if they engage in criminal activity on the premises?
      • Is there any fine-print on the effectiveness of the program, or how well they follow it? For example if a heroin addict goes to group every Wednesday, but still shoots up every Monday, Tues, Thurs, and Friday during lunch break... is he still protected?

        I suppose in this case it would be if the guy goes to Wankaholics anonymous but still sneaks in a quickie at the computer during every lunch break.

        This doesn't take into the account that while the guy might have a sex addiction, it does *not* require that
    • A trucking company can fire a trucker who goes blind and can no longer truck. A company like IBM can fire a guy whose job is to work on a computer all day if he has a disability that only lets him jack-off all day. What's the big deal?
  • Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jjohnson (62583) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:49PM (#18061850) Homepage
    This sounds like a bullshit complaint that's about a bitter loser denying reality. Remember, anyone can file a complaint; whether it goes anywhere is what matters, and I doubt this one will. Big companies like IBM have checklists for firing people, and if they're saying they warned him months ago, they've almost certainly got it in writing. They've probably also got logs showing his workstation accessing porn. And as for Internet Addiction, even established addictions don't prevent you from getting fired--being addicted to heroin, for example, won't save your job just because you're legitimately, medically addicted to something everyone agrees is uncontrollable.
  • by dave1g (680091) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:50PM (#18061860) Journal
    Pacenza: Couple who had sex on desk merely transferred

    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."
    • by Courageous (228506) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @05:04PM (#18061958)
      I would have to admit that if one employee views porn at work, and another set of employees FUCK at work, and their treatments by management are starkly different, with this person approaching a big retirement pension, the situation rather does look something like selective preferential enforcement. One of the reasons corporate consul will recommended treating all employees the same and have equitable and equally enforced policy is exactly because disparate treatment makes a good argument for a hidden agenda in court.

      C//
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GryMor (88799)
        Makes sense to me. Viewing adult sites at work leaves an electronic trail back to the company, so they have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to stop it. Sex on a desk is only an issue if done in such a way that there is evidence of it having occurred (in view of cameras, in an unlocked or windowed office, in a cube farm...), if the sex act itself was some how unlawfull (non consensual or for money, though there are other options in some jurisdictions) or if the relationship results in a conf
    • Interesting. Not having a program for "programs for sex addiction or other psychological illnesses" may cause them for problems.
      There has been some rulings (in Mass) that said that disability insurance companies can't discriminate between mental and physical disabilities.
  • Does not cover everything. For example, kleptomania is not considered a "disability" under the act, and I doubt being addicted to the Internet is really much different.

    Amazing, I was able to use the mandatory ethics training I had to take at work in a conversation....hooray! Maybe?
  • If sex additiction is a valid argument to raise when you're about to get fired, no men would EVER get fired. And then we'd have issues with equality between sex and blah.
  • by rueger (210566) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:59PM (#18061924) Homepage
    His lawyer ... says Pacenza never visited pornographic sites at work, violated no written IBM rule ...

    International Business Machines Corp. ... (says) ... 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.


    Seems pretty obvious. If IBM can produce those written policies, and has kept a written record of the previous warnings, Pacenza doesn't have a leg to stand on.

    References to his past history in the military don't really seem all that relevant. Yes, many vets of Viet Name and other action carry the scars with them but that does not give them a right to totally ignore their employer's direction.

    • Thanks to this guy, IBM management is probably going to have to make stricter guidelines stating what you can and can't view online while you're at work. I bet that will piss off a ton of employees!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jpetts (208163)

      Pacenza doesn't have a leg to stand on.

      Then he would be covered by ADA, right?
    • by Dun Malg (230075)

      References to his past history in the military don't really seem all that relevant. Yes, many vets of Viet Name and other action carry the scars with them but that does not give them a right to totally ignore their employer's direction.

      Exactly. I don't think an event 37 years ago, traumatic though it may have been, is a reasonable excuse for not following the rules. Imagine, if you will, that his chosen method of coping with PTSD was drinking two pints of cheap gin a day. If, after showing up to work drunk and being warned this was not OK, he continued to do so, would not IBM be justified in canning him then? Does the man himself not bear the lion's share of the blame for not seeking some more work-friendly means of soothing his PTSD at

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rueger (210566)
        Exactly. I don't think an event 37 years ago, traumatic though it may have been, is a reasonable excuse for not following the rules. Imagine, if you will, that his chosen method of coping with PTSD was drinking two pints of cheap gin a day. If, after showing up to work drunk and being warned this was not OK, he continued to do so, would not IBM be justified in canning him then?

        Just to be clear, I do have friends who suffer from PTSD and even 40 years later (they were in Viet Nam early on) it has a daily imp
  • So lets see here. If I were a heroin addict, and I was fixing on the job, and they fired me for fixing on the job, I could sue them for 5Million? Dang, I should become an addict for the big pay day! Sounds like this guy just has an addiction to not working. Or perhaps he is allergic to work.
  • by vic-traill (1038742) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @05:42PM (#18062194)

    Send Buddy over to my department. I am willing to assume the company's Duty to Accommodate - plus it will help mitigate the Undue Hardship I'm experiencing in trying to locate 'The Really Good Shit' porn. I need a professional.

    Just when you think I'm being a smart-ass, this isn't as far out there as you might think. I understand the motovation(s) for this sort of governance, but the implementation is getting pretty whacky. From the Canadian Human Rights Commissions website:

    1. What is the duty to accommodate?

    The duty to accommodate is the obligation to meaningfully incorporate diversity into the workplace. The duty to accommodate involves eliminating or changing rules, policies, practices and behaviours that discriminate against persons based on a group characteristic, such as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, marital status, family status and disability. emphasis mine

    So my contribution to diversifying sexual orientation is that I wanna monkey spank all day sitting at my desk. Where's the beef? ... [Slaps Head]

    http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/preventing_discrimination/ page1-en.asp [chrc-ccdp.ca]

  • Absurd (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JPMaximilian (948958)
    Why would you sue a company (and expect to win) when you were fired for violating a companies (reasonable) policies. The lawyer probably knows his client doesn't have a chance, but it milking this chap for legal fees.
  • by Giro d'Italia (124843) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @05:50PM (#18062270)
    If indeed IBM simply transferred two other workers who had actual sex on a desk (one assumes this occurred when someone could witness it, rather than in a private office late one night), it's going to be hard for them to justify firing this guy for engaging in otherwise legal activity even though it was using company resources. That's not to say this is age discrimination or some other malfeasance on the part of IBM, but the lack of consistency is troubling.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JPMaximilian (948958)

      If indeed IBM simply transferred two other workers who had actual sex on a desk (one assumes this occurred when someone could witness it, rather than in a private office late one night), it's going to be hard for them to justify firing this guy for engaging in otherwise legal activity even though it was using company resources. That's not to say this is age discrimination or some other malfeasance on the part of IBM, but the lack of consistency is troubling.

      Even if it was a private office, that sort of conduct on company property is inappropriate. Context is very important in these situations. The fact that looking at porn is "legal" is very dependent on context. Going an taking a shower at my house is legal, doing so without permission at someone else residence is not.

    • by uncqual (836337)
      If neither of the employees having sex on a desk had been warned by IBM for similar previous violations, the cases may be quite distinct on that fact alone.
  • There was a Grey's Anatomy episode [tv.com] about a patient who watched pornography to ease his pain.
  • Cry me a river... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @06:12PM (#18062392) Journal
    Why the hell can't people just assume responsibility for their actions?

    And before anybody accuses me of being insensitive here, I have a psychological disability myself But I recognize that it's *MY* problem, not other people's, and that it's up to me to make choices at work that do not put me in situations where my disability would reflect anything less than the most professional behaviour of which I am otherwise capable.

  • ...then make sure that everything is channeled via ssh to an outside machine.

    You don't want people to see that you're visiting nasty web sites? Well, set up a machine outside running Squid, drill a little hole into the firewall using ssh to connect the outside Squid with your favorite local port, which you now use as your web proxy.

    And yes, this is also a wise thing to do even if you *not* visit nasty web sites but just sit in a company network which has an overly sensitive firewall e.g. blocking your
  • Has happened before (Score:4, Informative)

    by caseih (160668) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @06:37PM (#18062560)
    and the guy was successful, too, well kind of. The story is that my at one workplace my boss was at a few years ago, there was a man fired for browsing porn while at work. This wasn't just a one-time thing. He was caught spending up to 6 hours a day surfing for it. After the man was fired, he sued the company saying that his porn surfing was the result of addiction for which he was seeking treatment, and thus he had been wrongfully terminated. His claim was that he was disabled and that the company had fired him because of his disability. The case never went all the way to trial, though. Instead the company settled with him, agreeing to take him back on as an employee if he agreed to not surf any porn at work, and to have his every internet use monitored while at work. The sad thing is that he lasted a week under this arrangement. After about 5 days or so, he was caught surfing porn again. This time his lawyers told him to just go quietly. It would almost be a funny story if it wasn't so pathetic. Some of these people really do need help with their addictions (sexual or whatever). Suing IBM is not something that is going to be helpful, however.
  • by moehoward (668736) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @06:50PM (#18062616)

    So, he knew he was "sick", yet still came into work. I hate it when sick people come into work.

    He should have gotten treatment by himself. The article refers to "self medication". Too funny. IBM happens to have very good mental health benefits and he could have easily gotten into a discrete program through IBM. Or even by himself. My guess is that he would have even gotten paid leave for a short while.

    I would have felt just a bit more sorry for him if he had spilled hot coffee on his lap at the McDonald's drive through. Would have gotten him the $5 million and also solved his, um, other problem.
  • by vakuona (788200) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @06:52PM (#18062630)
    I work in the insurance industry and while I am not in the USA, I can't see how someone can lose their pension. He might lose his next six months income, and that may have a minor impact on his pension, but he can surely retire early or something. In any case, if he wants to retire, then IBM has nothing to gain (or should not be able to gain) from his being fired. The law should normally prevent that.

    I think IBM should just allow him to retire early, and save themselves 6 months wages at the same time, or just give the guy his 6 months salary, damn, he has been working there for like only 19 years. It is not worth it to fight this guy.
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @09:56PM (#18063580) Homepage Journal

    Firing addicts when they screw up their jobs due to their addiction, is good thing, not a bad thing. Make their self-medication have consequences. Make them hit bottom and want to recover.

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