Sacked Employee Says Stress Led to His Sex Addiction

by VR Sreeraman on  May 25, 2007 at 4:22 PM Mental Health News
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Sacked Employee Says Stress Led to His Sex Addiction
A Vietnam war veteran is claiming an interesting manifestation of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - internet sex addiction.

And when he frequented chat rooms while at work, his employers, the multinational computer giant, IBM, fired him.

Now the 58-year old James Pacenza is suing them for $ 5 million for "wrongful dismissal."

He argues that IBM should have offered him sympathy and treatment instead of sacking him.

He says that seeing his best friend killed in action while they were on patrol in Vietnam in 1969 brought on his post-traumatic stress disorder.

His psychological problems have left him addicted to sex, especially adult internet chat rooms.

His lawyer, Michael Diederich, says Pacenza did not visit pornographic sites at work, violate any written IBM rules or surf the internet any more or any differently than other workers.

Pacenza, who is married with two children, earned $65,000 a year operating a machine that makes computer chips. Several times during the day, machine operators are idle for five to 10 minutes as the machine checks chip measurements.

It was during one of these periods on May 28, 2003, that he logged onto a chat room. According to his lawyer, Pacenza had visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington earlier that day.

Pacenza said he was called away before joining in any online conversations. But when another worker went to computer he saw sexually explicit comments which he reported, leading to Pacenza being fired the next day.

Pacenza, is claiming protection under the American with Disabilities Act, saying the war stress had turned him into "a sex addict, and with the development of the internet, an internet addict."

His lawyer says that IBM workers who have drug or alcohol problems are placed in programs to help them, and that his client too should have been offered the same treatment.

IBM has asked a judge to dismiss the case, saying sexual behavior disorders are specifically excluded from the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Besides Pacenza was dismissed "because he visited an internet chat room for a sexual experience during work after he had been previously warned,'' IBM said.

If the case goes to trial, it could affect how employers regulate non work-related internet use or how internet overuse is treated as a medical condition.

A recent study by Stanford University found that up to 14 per cent of computer users reported neglecting their work, school, families, food and sleep to surf the internet.

Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, the academic behind the study, said 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.

Source: Medindia

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