A High Court has ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear a suit by nearly 200 people sacked by a subcontractor for Facebook’s parent company Meta.
On March 17, 183 content moderators employed in Nairobi by Sama, a Meta subcontractor, filed a lawsuit in a local court, alleging “unlawful” termination by the social media behemoth.
According to Meta’s lawyers, the company cannot be sued since the Employment and Labour Relations Court lacks the authority to rule against a non-Kenyan organization.
Additionally, it claimed that Meta itself does not employ the complainants.
On Thursday, however, Labor Relations Court Judge Mathews Nduma Nderi disagreed with the company.
“The court finds that this court has jurisdiction to determine the matter of alleged unlawful and unfair termination of employment,” Justice Nderi is quoted by AFP.
Additionally, he sustained the March 21 interim injunction postponing the firing of the subcontractors.
Lat year, Daniel Motaung, a South African national working in Nairobi, alleged exploitation and unfavorable working conditions.
Through lawyer Fred Ojiambo, Facebook argued that it should not have been sued by the complainant as he had been hired by a third party.
The global social media company said that the lawsuit was unworthy, flawed legally, and untenable.
The former employee alleged that Meta and Sama did not invest adequately in programs and initiatives to safeguard the moderators’ mental health and well-being and to avoid, lessen, and remedy the harm and impacts of their employment.
He lamented the lack of hardship allowance for the moderators, who were employed by firms like Sama rather than Meta.
“Content moderation at Facebook has been found to pose a risk to workers’ mental health. Because of their repeated exposure to gruesome content such as beheadings, torture, and rape, a significant number of Facebook moderators contract post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD),” he said.
“The mental condition may involve among other problems insomnia, flashbacks, panic attacks, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty forming human relationships. A serious patient of PTSD may struggle to continue in work.”