Court Dismisses Meta’s Bid To Challenge Order Stopping It From Sacking Nairobi Content Moderators

A Kenyan court on Wednesday dismissed an application by Meta challenging an order blocking the social media giant and its content moderating partner Sama from laying off the entire workforce at the latter’s Nairobi office.

In the interim order issued last week, the court barred the Facebook parent company or Sama from firing the workers, pending this week’s hearing to determine the legality of the redundancy.

It followed a March 17 lawsuit by 43 moderators at Facebook’s Nairobi moderation hub, who sued Meta and its outsourcers for sacking the entire workforce and blacklisting the laid-off workers.

Meta tried to have the orders struck down, but the court on Wednesday ruled that the injunction is extended until the legality of the redundancy is determined.

The order stops 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.

It also blocks the companies from refusing to recruit qualified content moderators on grounds that they were previously engaged through the Sama.

The outgoing moderators accuse the companies of operating a ‘blacklist’ of all ex-Sama moderators as punishment for organising.

Sama moderators who applied for the “new” positions with Majorel say they were unsuccessful, despite their expertise and experience.

The court was told there were messages between moderators and Majorel’s recruiters, instructing them not to hire any moderators previously employed by Sama.

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.

Meta in January also tried to have the case struck down, arguing that the local employment and labour relations court had no jurisdiction over it because it is neither based in nor trades in Kenya.

But the court in February said Meta can be sued in Kenya and declined to strike out the tech giant from the case.

The matter will be heard on April 12.

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