James Pacenza’s $5 million lawsuit against his employer for firing him for seeking cybersex at work is still pending today after being filed in 2004. It first got coverage in Business Week and Overlawyered in December, was picked up in News of the Weird a few weeks ago, and then covered by the AP today (h/t W.F.). Pacenza blames his sex- and Internet-addiction on his Vietnam War service and triggers from the Gulf War; as evidence that he should be rehired, he cites to his obscene phone calls to strangers and visits of prostitutes. We have the major filings:
- IBM motion for summary judgment (part 1)
- IBM motion for summary judgment (part 2)
- Pacenza opposition to summary judgment
I’m inclined to be mildly sympathetic to Pacenza’s situation (as opposed to his lawsuit); a chat-room is hardly more disruptive to productivity than an Ebay visit, and Pacenza’s largely automated job had a lot of waiting time. But the employment-discrimination laws are not a civil-service review of whether a firing was a good management decision: IBM’s rationale for firing Pacenza was in response to employees complaining that the chat-room was sexually offensive after Pacenza had been previously warned about visiting pornographic sites; IBM was in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation because of the risk of a sexual harassment lawsuit, and failure to act against Pacenza might’ve been used against it in other litigation as evidence of a “pattern or practice” of condoning sexually offensive activity at work.
(Updated to note earlier Overlawyered post.)