James Pacenza, 58, says he was a compulsive visitor to online chat rooms because of a medical problem and that IBM should have offered him sympathy and treatment instead of firing him. The Vietnam War veteran says he has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since 1969.
He argues that he used the internet to control his psychological problems. Mr Pacenza 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.
He says that his psychological problems have left him addicted to sex, especially adult internet chat rooms.
When a fellow employee at IBM told managers that Mr Pacenza was visiting such sites while at work, he was sacked.
The stated reason was that he visited an internet chat site for a sexual experience after he had previously been warned. James Pacenza's lawyers will argue in court, as part of his $5 compensation claim, that their client was using the internet to self-medicate as a way of controlling his post traumatic stress disorder.
They will also argue that Mr Pacenza's claimed addiction to adult internet sites should be treated in the same way as other employees' addictions to drugs or alcohol.
The case has potential implications for employers throughout the world and their attitude towards regulating how their employees use workplace computers.