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Kenya: Court hears case against Meta over dismissal of employees

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WILLIAM WEST/AFP or licensors


A Kenyan court hears a bid by Facebook's parent company Meta to stop a lawsuit accusing it among other things of exploitation and poor working conditions. Meta is seeking to have the case struck down, arguing that the local employment and labour relations court has no jurisdiction over it because it is neither based in nor trades in Kenya.

In March, 43 moderators working at Facebook's moderation center in the east African nation announced that they filed a lawsuit against Meta, the platform's parent company, for unlawful dismissal. 

Mercy Mutemi, is the lawyer for former content moderators at Sama. After the court session in Nairobi on Wednesday she said "what basically is the challenge of the case is how they were treated, while being Facebook content moderators, and the manner in which Facebook and Sama tried to terminate their contracts. That's what this case is about. "

The 43 were part of over 260 moderators fired in January by Sama, the outsourcing company that has run the office since 2019.

"One of our claims in the petition is that the moderators who were engaged through Sama have tried seeking alternative employment as Facebook moderators through Majorel (Another outsourcing firm) and the response they are getting is that they are not engaging moderators who previously worked at Sama. So that, the claim that they're amaking in the court is that that's discriminatory, and everyone has a right to work, and they should have a right to apply and get equal opportunities for work." Mutemi explained further.

It is not the first time that Facebook is being involved in controversy leading to lawsuits in Kenya. In December 2022, Meta the social media parent company was accused of fueling online ethnic hatred and violence in Kenya and Ethiopia. A $1.6 billion fund has been called for to compensate victims while legal proceedings are still ongoing.

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