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African court claims jurisdiction in Meta ‘unlawful dismissal’ cases

Judge Matthews Nduma has said that the Facebook parent company can be sued in Kenya

Kenya’s employment and labor relations court ruled on Thursday that it has jurisdiction to hear a lawsuit filed by a group of content moderators against Meta, Facebook’s parent company, alleging “unlawful dismissal.”

Judge Matthews Nduma, in a ruling cited by Reuters, held that the labor court “has jurisdiction to determine the matter of alleged unlawful and unfair termination of employment on grounds of redundancy.

Meta, the owner Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, filed an appeal in February against a ruling that said the company could be sued in the East African country despite having no official presence there. The US company disputed the decision that Kenyan courts had jurisdiction over Meta after a former content moderator filed a complaint alleging poor working conditions.

Last month, 43 moderators at Facebook’s Nairobi moderation hub filed a case against the social media company and its local subcontractor Sama. The complainants alleged that they lost their jobs with Sama after attempting to form a union. They also accused meta of “blacklisting” them from applying for the same roles at another outsourcing firm, Luxembourg-based Majorel, after Facebook switched contractors.

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Sacked Kenyan Facebook moderators sue Meta

On March 21, Nduma temporarily blocked the mass redundancy of the content moderators, preventing Meta and Sama from terminating their contracts at the end of March until the legality of their dismissal was determined. Meta was also temporarily barred from subcontracting the roles of workers who moderate Facebook content for Eastern and Southern Africa, according to Reuters.

Aside from the suit filed by the moderators, whose number has now grown to 184, and an earlier one submitted by a former South African employee, Meta is also facing a legal battle in Kenya from a local NGO and two Ethiopian citizens. The petitioners claimed that the company failed to act against online hate speech in Africa, calling for the establishment of a $1.6 billion compensation fund for victims.

April 21, 2023 at 12:07AM

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