Suit against Facebook over work conditions in its Nairobi office to be decided on Monday

The Employment and Labour Relations Tribunal in Nairobi will on Monday decide whether Facebook must respond to claims of employee mistreatment and exploitation in its Nairobi content moderation office.

Daniel Motaung, a former content moderator, filed the lawsuit against the social media behemoth in an effort to bring about major reforms to Facebook’s business practices.

In 2019, Motaung worked as a content moderator at the Nairobi content moderation office run by contractor Sama. He claims he was unaware of the substantial risk to his health posed by the nature of his profession. Motaung, like other other content moderators, developed PTSD as a result of his time spent at the office.

Facebook has argued that the action should be dismissed because it does not operate in Kenya and does not have a registered office there. However, the Nairobi safety hub is regarded as the center for moderation in East and Southern Africa, and the risky working environment there was revealed in a front-page TIME magazine article.

The ruling comes at a time when Facebook is currently facing another lawsuit in Kenya’s High Court for allegedly encouraging hate speech that has incited violence, including the present crisis in Ethiopia. The Nairobi content moderation office, which is at the heart of the Motaung controversy, is also the source of this second case.

Additionally, Sama, Facebook’s outsourcer, is accused of making Kenyan laborers endure grueling tasks detoxifying Open AI’s Chat GPT program. Employees that dealt with content on murder, child sex abuse, and bestiality reportedly made less than $2 per hour.

Foxglove, a London-based legal non-profit dedicated to technological justice, is supporting Motaung’s case, with Mercy Mutemi of Nzili and Sumbi Advocates serving as main counsel. The decision will determine whether Facebook must defend itself in the historic lawsuit initiated by Daniel Motaung and whether the firm will be held liable for the claims of abuse and exploitation of its employees.

The ruling will take place at 9 am East African Time.

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