A Kenyan court is currently hearing a bid by Meta, Facebook’s parent company, to halt a lawsuit filed against it by former content moderators who worked at Facebook’s moderation center in the country.
The moderators have accused Meta of unlawful dismissal, citing exploitation and poor working conditions. Meta is seeking to have the case dismissed, arguing that the local employment and labour relations court in Kenya lacks jurisdiction since it is neither based nor trades in the country.
The lawsuit, filed in March, involves 43 former content moderators who were part of the more than 260 moderators terminated by Sama, an outsourcing company that has been operating the Facebook moderation center since 2019. Mercy Mutemi, the lawyer representing the former moderators, highlighted that the case revolves around how they were treated while working as Facebook content moderators and the manner in which their contracts were terminated.
“One of our claims in the petition is that the moderators who were engaged through Sama have tried seeking alternative employment as Facebook moderators through Majorel, another outsourcing firm, and the response they are getting is that they are not engaging moderators who previously worked at Sama. So, the claim they are making in court is that this is discriminatory, and everyone has a right to work and should have equal opportunities for employment,” Mutemi further explained.
This is not the first time Facebook has faced controversy and lawsuits in Kenya. In December 2022, Meta, the parent company, was accused of fueling online ethnic hatred and violence in Kenya and Ethiopia. A $1.6 billion fund has been called for to compensate victims while legal proceedings are still ongoing.
The outcome of this lawsuit will have significant implications for Meta and its operations in Kenya, as well as potential repercussions for other multinational corporations operating in the country.