Meta Platforms Inc, the company that owns Facebook, has moved to the Court of Appeal to challenge a recent ruling by the High Court that the firm can be sued in Kenya amid allegations of exploitation and poor working conditions of its content moderators at the Nairobi Hub.
The new twist comes after the parties appeared before Justice Jacob Gakeri of the Employment and Labour Relations Court on Monday, February 20, for the hearing of an application by the petitioner Daniel Motaung', a former Facebook content moderator in Nairobi Hub, seeking to be allowed to serve Meta with the lawsuit papers outside Kenya.
Through lawyer Fred Ojiambo, Meta urged the court to suspend the hearing of the application of service until the appellant court determines their appeal on whether the Kenya courts have jurisdiction to hear the suit.
Lawyer Ojiambio claims that Meta has appealed the decision of the Labour court after being aggrieved with the entire finding that it can be sued in Kenya.
Ojiambo claims that the petitioner was not an employee of Meta.
"This is a pure employment-related matter. We (Meta) are not the employer and we are going to show that. The petitioner has to prove that he was employed by our clients," Ojiembo stated.
He insisted that the court has no jurisdiction at all to continue hearing any application against the social media company.
Meta argues that it ought not to have been sued in Kenya since the petitioner had been contracted by a third party, Samasource Kenya EPZ, which had been outsourced for content moderation services on Facebook.
The international social media firm stated that the suit before the labour court should await the decision of the Court of Appeal.
However, Judge Gakeri declined to hear an application by Meta for leave to appeal his decision at the appellant court rendered on February 6, 2023, that declared that the American social media giant's company can be sued in the country saying the court has no to grant such orders.
He, however, directed all parties to file their submissions on the application by Motaung' before March 14.
In the recent application, the petitioner wants to be granted orders allowing him to furnish Meta with the court papers and ordered him to do so to enable the company to respond to the claims raised against it.
The move comes after the court declined to drop a case by the former Facebook content moderator against Meta and Samasource Kenya EPZ, its main subcontractor for content moderation in Africa, over claims of exploitation and union busting.
In his ruling Justice Gakeri recognised that Facebook is not registered in Kenya but maintained it can be sued in Kenya.
Facebook's parent firm sued
In July last year, the petitioner sued Meta over alleged failure to cater for the mental well-being of the employees and poor working conditions.
He claimed that he was sacked in 2019 after questioning the working conditions of the employees based in the Nairobi office. He adds that he was exposed to graphic content that has affected him mentally.
The firm was sued alongside its local outsourcing agent Samasource Kenya EPZ Limited (Sama), a company registered in the United States.
“Sama and Meta acted negligently by failing to provide adequate precautions for the safety, health and wellbeing of the Facebook Content Moderators and exposing them to risk, danger and injury of which they were aware,” he said in the court papers.
In his petition, Moutang is seeking financial compensation for himself and other former and existing moderators. He also wants Sama and Meta compelled to stop union busting and provide mental health support amongst other demands.
Meta also owns WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.