A court in Nairobi has barred Meta, Facebook's parent company, from laying off its content moderators pending determination of a lawsuit that is challenging their planned dismissal, BBC reports.
The suit alleges that the social media giant instructed their new content moderation partner, Majorel, to blacklist them. These former employees are also suing their former employer, Sama, claiming they were given the boot in an unlawful manner, according to TechCabal Daily.
The labour court has now ordered Meta not to hire other moderators to replace the fired ones.
africanews. reports that Meta, which also encompasses Instagram and WhatsApp, has undertaken to reduce its workforce by nearly 25% in less than six months, a symbol of the difficulties faced by the tech sector.
The content moderators have reportedly taken Meta and two outsourcing companies - Majorel and Sama - to court, a tech rights group has said. A total of 43 workers for outsourcing company Sama, who moderated Facebook content, are bringing the lawsuit for what they allege was "unlawful dismissal" under Kenyan law.
They are also bringing on a so-called constitutional petition in Kenya's Employment and Labour Relations Court against Facebook, Sama, and Majorel on the grounds that retaliating against employees who are seeking better work conditions is unlawful discrimination, reports TIME.
In January 2023, 260 content moderators working at Facebook's moderation hub in Nairobi were reportedly told they would be made redundant by Sama, the outsourcing firm which has run the office since 2019.
The moderators have told the court that they have been given "varying and confusing" explanations for the redundancy.
Meta and Sama have been given a week to respond to the application. The case will be heard on 28 March.
In December 2022, a Kenyan NGO and two Ethiopian citizens filed a complaint in Kenya against Meta, accusing the platform of not fighting enough online hate and demanding the creation of a fund of 1.6 billion dollars to compensate victims. After posting insolent growth since its creation, Facebook, which became Meta at the end of 2021, has been suffering from a slowdown in online advertising since last year.