Now that I have your attention:
‘Internet addict’ dismissal case a cause for thought
Reports that IBM is being sued by a man fired by the company for visiting an adult chat room while at work have triggered some predictable responses.
James Pacenza, who operated chip-making machines, claims stress during the Vietnam War resulted in him becoming addicted to sex and later the internet.
Most bloggers’ comments seem to be along the lines of taking personal responsibility and that he shouldn’t have been visiting chat rooms during working hours. But is it really that simple?
Apparently Pacenza’s work involved short but fairly frequent periods of forced idleness while the machines were busy, and it’s hard to argue that using the internet at such times is inherently less appropriate than say reading a book.
IBM says it previously warned Pacenza following a similar incident, but he claims other employees have been let off more lightly despite committing worse infringements.
A prohibition on the display of sexually explicit material exists in most workplaces, and with good reason. But Pacenza’s lawyer, Michael Diedrich, contends that employees with other addictions are helped with recovery programs.
If the machines are idle, is he allowed to read Playboy? What about if he says he reads it only for the articles? If he was playing the stockmarket during the downtime, would that make a difference? Do we have the same emotional reaction to X-rated chat rooms as we do to ones with illegal subjects (paedophilia springs to mind). Does IBM have the right to be the moral guardians of their employees? I probably would read trashy bodice-ripping ‘romances’ if I was stuck in a job that meant idle time. I wish my buddy Lynn was back from overseas – she has a PH.D in unfair dismissals, or something. She’d have a few things to say on the matter, I bet. How about you? do you think his chatting online was just the straw that broke the camels back?