By his own admission, James Pacenza was spending too much time in Internet chat rooms, in some of them discussing sex. He goes so far as to call his interest in inappropriate Web sites a form of addiction that stems from the post-traumatic stress disorder he’s suffered since returning from Vietnam. Whatever it’s called, Pacenza’s chat-room habit cost him his job.
After 19 years at IBM’s East Fishkill plant, Pacenza was fired in May, 2003, after a fellow employee noticed discussion of a sex act on a chat room open on Pacenza’s computer. IBMÂ maintains that logging onto the Web site was a violation of its business conduct guidelines and a misuse of company property â€” and that it was well within its rights to terminate Pacenza’s employment…
But cases like Pacenza’s, which involve Internet misuse, may no longer be quite so simple, thanks to a growing debate over whether Internet abuse is a legitimate addiction, akin to alcoholism.