A A group of Facebook content moderators in Kenya is suing platform parent company Meta and two outsourcing companies, the tech rights group said on Monday. A total of 43 employees of the outsourcing company Sama who moderated Facebook content are suing for what they claim was wrongful dismissal under Kenyan law.
Sama, hired by Meta to moderate Facebook content from Nairobi in 2019, reported 260 content moderators fired earlier this year, according to Foxglove, a technology-justice nonprofit that supports the lawsuit. It comes after a TIME investigation revealed low wages, injury and alleged union busting at the center, and a former employee launched a lawsuit against Meta and Sama for what he claims was unfair dismissal for organizing a union, among other things. Foxglove says Facebook is not giving up content moderation work, but rather switching to another outsourcing firm, Majorel, for what she says is “a share of the paycheck and in worse living conditions.” Majorel is currently moderating TikTok in Kenya, according to Foxglove.
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Foxglove said several moderators who had lost their jobs reapplied for vacancies at Majorel for what appeared to be the same job, paying less than Herself. They were unsuccessful, and Foxglove claims that Majorelle’s recruiters indicated that they were instructed not to hire moderators who had just been fired from Sama.
“The case filed today alleges that 260 moderators who were fired – and denied future employment – are being punished for this and the subsequent unionization in violation of Kenyan law,” Foxglove said in a statement Monday.
Content moderators are now filing a so-called constitutional petition in the Labor and Labor Court of Kenya against Facebook, Sama and Majorel on the grounds that retaliation against employees seeking better working conditions is unlawful discrimination.
“This is a union busting operation masquerading as mass layoffs. You can’t just switch vendors and tell recruiters not to hire your workers because they are “troublemakers,” that is, because they have the temerity to stand up for themselves,” Corey Kreider, co-CEO of Foxglove, said in a statement. .
In the lawsuit, the content moderators ask the Kenyan court to stop the dismissal process and ensure that the jobs of existing Sama workers are protected. They also demand full compensation for damages to workers, and Facebook, Sama and Majorel officially recognize the right of moderators to organize.
Sama said in a statement to TIME that it “has not yet been served by any entity on this matter,” adding that “ending the content moderation business was a difficult decision we made when Sama shifted its focus to a computer vision data annotation technology platform and decision.” Meta declined to comment, and Majorel representatives did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.
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Last year, former Sama content moderator Daniel Motaung filed an initial lawsuit against Meta and Sama, alleging he was wrongfully fired for organizing a union of moderators protesting working conditions. Motaung claims that both companies are guilty of numerous violations of Kenyan law. Meta argued that the Kenyan court lacked jurisdiction because it was not based in Kenya. A the judge ruled last month that the company could still be in southern Kenya.
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