Meta seeks to have case filed in Kenya by Daniel Motaung, a former employee dropped

In a case where Facebook is being sued in Kenya by a former employee citing poor working conditions, the multinational now wants the case dropped, arguing that Kenyan courts don’t have jurisdiction to hear and determine it.

The application follows a lawsuit filed by Daniel Motaung last month against Meta and Sama, its main subcontractor for content moderation in Africa, over claims of exploitation and union busting.

Motaung, a South African national who previously worked as a content moderator with Sama, says he was laid off for organizing a 2019 strike and trying to unionize the subcontractor’s employees. He adds that he was exposed to graphic content that has affected him mentally.

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.

According to documents filed by Nzuli and Nsumbi advocates, the law firm representing Motaung in the petition, Sama subjected content moderators to unfair labor actions and failed to grant them adequate mental health support. It added that Sama allowed a “toxic work environment,” which prevented moderators from sharing the nature of the job and their experiences with third parties, including Meta’s employees.

According to the application filed by Meta, Facebook’s parent company, the firm has indicated that it isn’t domiciled or trading in Kenya, thus the Kenyan High court has no jurisdiction over them. The case incorporates Meta Platforms, Inc. and Meta Platforms Ireland.

“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,” said Kaplan & Stratton senior counsel Fred Ojiambo, representing Meta.

Meta, in the application, also sought to have the case dropped noting that moderators had signed a non-disclosure agreement, barring them from issuing evidence against it. This case is now set for hearing on June 27, and it has to be determined before the previous one carries on.

Facebook moderators are sourced from countries that include Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia and others. They work from a hub located in Nairobi under their subcontractor, Sama, an outsourcing company.