A June 2 court ruling found that Meta is the principal employer of 184 content moderators. While Meta appeals the ruling, Sama, its former content partner, is caught in the middle.

Earlier this month, an Employment and Labour Relations Court ruled in favour of 184 moderators fired by Sama, Meta’s content reviewer in Kenya. The 184 moderators also told the court that when Meta moved its content moderation contract to another firm called Majorel, the social media giant asked Majorel not to hire any moderator who had worked with Sama. The court blocked the firing of the moderators and mandated Sama and Meta to extend their contracts until the final determination of the suit. 

Meta will now appeal the ruling. Part of its argument is that the moderators are not Meta’s employees. It will also argue that the court’s demand that it extend the contracts of the 184 moderators amounts to the court writing a new contract on its behalf. While Meta appeals, it remains to be seen what work Sama will provide the moderators with.

Sama, which the court described as an “agent for Meta,” told TechCabal that the ruling was confusing. The content reviewer laid off the moderators in January 2023 after its contract with Meta had expired. Concerns over the disturbing content reviewers often had to watch prompted the company not to seek a renewal of the contract. The June ruling now means that despite having no existing contract with Meta, it must keep the moderators employed. 

The company told TechCabal via email, “The recent ruling from June 2 is confusing and, in many cases, contradictory. Sama fully exited the content moderation business earlier this year and did not have work to give the moderators. We care deeply about the health and emotional well-being of our team. We invested in creating a working environment that supported our content moderators’ needs.”

The buck stops with Meta 

Sama’s position is straightforward. Without a contract to review content for Meta, it has no work for the moderators. Instead, the court ruling places responsibility on Meta’s shoulders as it determined that Meta is the “primary employer of the moderators. And because Meta moved the content moderation contract to another company, the Court “found that the job of content moderation is available” and that “the applicants will continue working upon the prevailing or better terms in the interim.”

While Meta appeals, it remains to be seen what work Sama will provide the moderators with.

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