Court rules Meta can be sued in Kenya

By Elijah Odhiambo

The High Court has ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear and determine a case against Facebook’s parent firm, Meta.

In a landmark ruling delivered on Monday 6th Feb, 2023 by the Employment and Labour Relations court, Justice Jacob Gakeri declined to edge out Meta Platforms Inc and the Meta platforms Ireland limited from a case filed by a former South African Facebook moderator Daniel Motaung.

The court was delivering a ruling on the arguments by the parent firm, Meta, that it cannot be tried in Kenya.

The firm argued that Meta Platforms Inc and Meta Platforms Ireland Limited listed as respondents in the suit, are foreign corporations and neither resident nor trading in Kenya.

Meta, additionally argued that the 12 petitioners led by Daniel Motaung’, a South African had been contracted by a third party, which had been outsourced for content moderation services on Facebook.

Mr. Motaung’, said the American social media giant firm acted negligently by failing to provide moderators with adequate psychosocial support after exposing them to graphic content.

The case was filed last year, with Motaung claiming that he and his colleagues underwent psychological injuries from continuous exposure to extremely disturbing, graphic violent content and a toxic working environment.

Mr. Motaung  seeks  to be paid damages for the tribulations and psychological stress he went through in the half year period he worked for the firm and for working extra hours without pay.

Daniel, acting as a Whistleblower sued Facebook & its agent, Sama, for human trafficking, forced labour and human rights abuses. He stated that there was alleged deplorable working conditions and various human rights violations while working for Sama, an agent of Facebook (Meta). He also claimed that he was fired after speaking out.

In the suit, he is seeking courts reprieve as follows;

  1. Order that Facebook Content Moderators engaged through Samasource Kenya EPZ Limited be considered direct employees of Meta Platforms, Inc. and Meta Platforms Ireland Limited.
  2. An independent human rights and psychological health audit at the Nairobi hub to report to the court, within 30 days, recommendations on how to create a safer work environment for content moderators.
  3. Order of permanent injunction restraining the respondents from interfering with content moderators’ rights to freedom of expression, their right to freedom of association and their right to form, join and participate in a trade union. Additionally, an order to each respondent to prominently exhibit in the 1st respondent’s Nairobi office, and on Facebook’s intranet Workplace, a notice affirming that Facebook content moderators have the right to speak out about working conditions and to form a union, and that neither Facebook nor any outsourcer will interfere with these rights.
  4. Financial penalties to each former and existing content moderator employed in Kenya for the violation of their constitutional rights and to cater for lifetime treatment for any mental health problems that may have developed as a result of being content moderators.
  5. Order Sama to account for and pay back all unlawful deductions made from its employees’ salaries and that all current and former employees be provided with their payslips from date the date of employment to the date of termination of employment or to date.
The case will heard on 8th March for further hearing.


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