Kenyan court orders Facebook parent Meta to pay employees fired in Nairobi

Kenyan court orders Facebook parent Meta to pay employees fired in Nairobi

A security guard stands watch by the Meta sign outside the headquarters of Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc in Mountain View, California, U.S. November 9, 2022. REUTERS/Peter DaSilva

A Kenyan court on Thursday ordered Facebook parent company Meta to continue paying salaries to staff of its content moderation sub-contractor in Africa, Sama.

This is ahead of the May 25 hearing on all pending applications in the ongoing legal battle over Sama’s mass layoffs, where 184 moderators sued the company for allegedly laying them off unlawfully.

Sama has run the office since 2019 and announced in January that it was laying off all 260 content moderators working at Facebook’s moderation hub in Nairobi at the end of March.

The case filed in March this year sued Meta and its outsourcers for sacking the entire workforce and blacklisting the laid-off workers.

The court gave an order stopping Meta, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, from switching suppliers to Majorel because the case argues that the switch is being carried out in a discriminatory way.

Meta tried to challenge the order but the court shut it down and ruled that the injunction is extended. Sama was directed to continue reviewing content for Meta and be its sole provider in Africa until the legality of the redundancy is determined.

The company nonetheless sent the moderators on compulsory leave in April. Sama said it had no work for them as its moderation contract with Meta had expired.

Last week, Sama staff demonstrated at the company’s headquarters in Nairobi, accusing the company of withholding their April salaries.

However, the company maintained its contract with Facebook has expired and said it is operating within the confines of the court order.

“The court declined to grant the order seeking to prevent the expiry of contracts and directed that the individual contracts cannot be varied. As a consequence. the expiry dates of each contract of employment could not be changed and every employee's employment expired automatically on their respective expiry date,” Sama said in a statement seen by Citizen Digital.

“All employees whose contracts have not expired continue to be kept on payroll and are being paid. All of those who have expired contracts are no longer Sama employees.”

In the meantime, both parties have been ordered not to litigate the case outside court.

On May 1, over 150 moderators working for Facebook, TikTok, and Open AI’s ChatGPT voted to register a workers union in the wake of the legal battle which has previously included allegations of poor working conditions and union-busting at the Meta moderation hub.


Citizen TV Mark Zuckerberg Kenya Meta Citizen Digital Sama Majorel Content moderator

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