In a landmark decision on Thursday, the Employment and Labour Relations court ruled in favor of outsourcing firm Samasource and ordered them to continue paying Facebook content moderators while a petition challenging their layoffs is being determined. These moderators, hailing from various African countries, had been employed as Facebook content moderators at the Content Moderation Centre in Nairobi, serving the larger Eastern and Southern African Region.
It has been reported that these moderators had sued Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc and Meta Platforms Ireland Limited, alleging that their employer had refused to pay their monthly salaries, leaving them destitute. The employees claimed that their contracts were terminated on March 31, 2023, and that their employer had initiated a redundancy process. Their lawyer, Mercy Mutemi, has told the court that their employer was prohibited from terminating their contracts or giving the content moderators’ jobs to another party.
Pending further court orders, the firm has been instructed to pay the moderators at their current terms and benefits. Moreover, the moderators have been granted orders preserving their immigration status, enabling them to stay in Kenya legally. Applications are scheduled to be heard on May 25, 2023.
The group of Facebook content moderators from various African countries, who have been fighting their layoffs, are now seeking justice in the form of compensation from their employer. The compensation includes twelve months of gross salary as compensation for unfair termination, as well as damages amounting to Sh10 million per moderator for the unfair labor practices they faced. Additionally, they are demanding a further Sh20 million each for the violation of their rights. They are hoping that the court will declare their termination unlawful and order their immediate reinstatement.
This ruling is significant since it emphasizes the importance of defending the rights of employees, particularly those who are vulnerable and susceptible to exploitation. It also highlights the need for employers to adhere to labor laws and ensure that their employees are treated fairly and justly.
Additionally, the fact that the moderators come from various African countries brings attention to the issue of migrant workers and their vulnerability to exploitation. The court’s decision to preserve their immigration status is a crucial step in safeguarding their rights and ensuring that they are not subjected to further injustices.
Moreover, the ruling challenges the concept that foreign entities are beyond the jurisdiction of local courts. By instructing Samasource to continue paying the moderators, pending further court orders, the judge has demonstrated that Kenyan courts have the power to protect the rights of employees, even when they work for foreign entities.