…and I’m Addicted to Oprah

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Whoa. I nearly missed this AP headline from a few days ago:

“Man Sues IBM Over Adult Chat Room Firing

In sum,

A man who was fired by IBM for visiting an adult chat room at work is suing the company for $5 million, claiming he is an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal.

James Pacenza, 58, of Montgomery, says he visits chat rooms to treat traumatic stress incurred in 1969 when he saw his best friend killed during an Army patrol in Vietnam.

In papers filed in federal court in White Plains, Pacenza said the stress caused him to become “a sex addict, and with the development of the Internet, an Internet addict.” He claimed protection under the American with Disabilities Act.

His lawyer, Michael Diederich, says Pacenza never visited pornographic sites at work, violated no written IBM rule and did not surf the Internet any more or any differently than other employees. He also says age discrimination contributed to IBM’s actions. Pacenza, 55 at the time, had been with the company for 19 years and says he could have retired in a year.

Here’s the take-away: the man claims he violated no written IBM rule. IBM disagrees:

International Business Machines Corp. has asked Judge Stephen Robinson for a summary judgment, saying its policy against surfing sexual Web sites is clear.

The lesson here is clear, even if the policy isn’t. Employers, get those rules in writing now, in as specific language as possible. Otherwise, who knows what we working scoundrels will try to get away with?

By they way, don’t bug me from 4 p.m. My Oprah addiction is the doctor-certified result of traumatic attention injury suffered sometime during the last congressional elections.

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