Facebook’s parent Meta is looking to have a case filed against it in Kenya dropped on the basis that it isn’t domiciled in Kenya and therefore has no jurisdiction over it.
The recent development comes after a suit was filed against the social media giant and Sama – its main subcontractor for content moderation in Africa. Back in March, we reported that a lawsuit was filed against the company and its main subcontractor over alleged unfair and unsafe working conditions for employees. The law firm handling the case gave Meta and Sama a period of 21 days, starting from the 29th of March, to meet these demands or face the lawsuit.
Meta and Sama were accused by Nzili and Sumbi Advocates, the law firm representing Daniel Motaung, a former Sama employee who was fired for organizing a strike over poor working conditions and remuneration, of violating various rights of its employees including the health and privacy of these employees – both Kenyans and non-Kenyans. Daniel Moutang claims that Meta and Sama “subjected current and former content moderators to forced labor and human trafficking for labor” adding that he was exposed to graphic content that has affected him mentally.
Daniel Moutang also sued Meta and Sama over claims of exploitation and union-busting. Daniel Moutang is seeking financial compensation and wants both Meta and Sama to desist from union-busting activities and put measures for workers’ mental health support in place.
According to the plaintiff, Sama mostly recruited moderators across Africa with a job description that they were taking up pay center jobs and they only get to know about the true details of their job after relocating to its hub in Nairobi and signing an irreversible employment contract. Their job is to remove Facebook users promoting misinformation, hate, and violence, against the call center job they were told about. “The varying descriptions (call center agents, agent, and content moderator) for the position of a content moderator are deceptive and designed to trick unsuspecting applicants into unknowingly becoming Facebook Content Moderators. Applicants who responded to the call for ‘Agents’ were especially deceived,” lawyers from Nzili and Sumbi Advocates said.
Via an application made by Meta Platforms Inc and Meta Platforms Ireland, the social media titan argues that it is a foreign corporation and not domiciled or traded in Kenya, and that the Kenyan High Court could not exert authority over it. The jurisdiction case will be heard first before the main suit will be given way to continue.
According to Kaplan & Stratton senior counsel Fred Ojiambo, on behalf of Meta, “The Second and Third Respondents (Meta Platforms Inc and Meta Platforms Ireland) are foreign corporations who are neither resident, domiciled nor trading in Kenya and accordingly this Honorable Court has no jurisdiction over them. In any event, the petitioner has not invoked the jurisdiction of this honorable court by seeking and obtaining the leave of this honorable court as by law required.”
In the application, Meta asked that the case be dropped emphasizing that moderators had signed a non-disclosure agreement that prevents them from issuing evidence against the company. While it seems like Meta may be trying to disassociate itself from the claims, its subcontractor Sama still claims that it has done nothing wrong.