Meta, a major social media platform, and its Kenyan content moderation partners Sama and Majorel, are being sued again. Since Sama’s contract with Meta expires this month due to the shutdown of its content review arm in January, 43 content moderators have filed a petition alleging “unlawful termination.”
They also say that Majorel, Meta’s new content moderation partner, has discriminated against them because they worked for Sama in the past.
The moderators have petitioned the employment and labor relations court, saying Sama wrongfully fired them because no redundancy notices were given. The lawsuit asserts, among other things, that the moderators were not given the minimum 30-day termination notice under Kenyan law and that the payment of their severance was contingent on their signing of non-disclosure agreements.
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It has also been claimed that former Sama content moderators have been blacklisted by Meta’s new Luxembourg-based partner, Majorel. Majorel “denied on the grounds that they previously worked at the 3rd Respondent’s (Sama’s) facilities” moderators who applied for jobs, the document claimed.
According to court records reviewed by The Kenya Times, many of the 260 impacted Sama content moderators were recruited from other African countries and would be forced to leave Kenya if they are unable to find other employment before their contracts with Sama expire on March 31.
However, Sama said it had: “followed Kenyan law in every aspect and often gone above and beyond what is required. We communicated the decision to discontinue content moderation in a town hall, followed by an email and notification letter.”
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“We conducted a survey to collect questions and held multiple interactive consultative group sessions with employees to make this process and the compensation as clear as possible. No lawfully owed compensation is being withheld for any reason from any employee,” it said in a statement.
Sama, whose long list of clientele includes OpenAI, dropped Meta’s contract and content review services to concentrate on labeling work (computer vision data annotation), following the heat from a 2022 lawsuit in Kenya by its former content moderator, Daniel Motaung.
Mental health and well-being of employees
Motuang, a South African, had accused Sama and Meta of not providing “sufficient” mental health and psychosocial care, as well as forced labor, human trafficking, unfair labor relations, union busting, and these things not being provided by Sama and Meta.
He was apparently fired because he attempted to unionize Sama’s workers and organize a strike in 2019.
“This is a union busting effort disguised as a layoff of hundreds of people. Cori Crider, head of the tech justice charity Foxglove, which is supporting the case, said, “You can’t just switch suppliers and instruct recruiters not to hire your workers because they are ‘troublemakers,'” meaning they have the audacity to stand up for themselves.
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This is the third lawsuit brought against Meta in Kenya; in December, Ethiopians sued, claiming that Facebook’s lack of adequate security contributed to the outbreak of violence that ultimately claimed the lives of 500,000 people in Ethiopia, including the petitioner’s father.
According to the complaint, the social network promoted hate speech and did not employ enough people fluent in local languages to review posts.
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