Nairobi | Kampala | Kigali | Addis Ababa
Home » Insights » Kenya’s Labour Court Rules In A Landmark Decision That MNCs & TNCs Can Be Sued In Their Own Name In Kenya.

Kenya’s Labour Court Rules In A Landmark Decision That MNCs & TNCs Can Be Sued In Their Own Name In Kenya.

Justice Gakeri’s decision that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, can be sued in Kenya is a significant ruling for the tech giant and the multinationals operating through sub contracted companies in Kenya. The labour court judge rejected Meta’s claim that a Kenyan court had no jurisdiction over their business, paving the stage for the company to experience its first significant labor dispute outside of the United States.

Insights into the ruling.

Chris Motaung, a content moderator for Meta who was hired from South Africa by the outsourcing firm Sama, filed the lawsuit in Kenya claiming that the wages he received were as low as $2.20 per hour for him to watch explicit material, which left him with PTSD. He also claims that the working conditions were illegal under Kenyan law and amounted to forced labor and human trafficking. The case claims that Meta operates within Kenya through its content moderation activities in Nairobi, modest staff and revenue from Kenyan advertising on its platform.

Meta argues that, they take their obligation to the moderators seriously and demand that their business partners offer market-beating compensation, benefits and assistance. Sama on its part, has rejected complaints about unfair wages, obscure hiring procedures and insufficient benefits for mental health.

Effect of the Ruling

The court in this preliminary ruling has made the determination that a firm is subject to Kenyan law as long as it has operations and conducts business within, and thus the court has jurisdiction to rule on any claims it has filed or is defending. This point was further supported by the case of Kanuri Limited and 3 others v. Uber Kenya Limited and 2 others (KEHC 138 (KLR) 2021), in which Judge Tuiyott denied Uber’s request to have the lawsuit dismissed because the plaintiff had asserted an agency relationship between Uber Kenya Limited, Uber International Holding B.V., and Uber International B.V. The court concluded that both the principal and agent can be sued jointly.

Given the foregoing several issues come to the fore:

  1. MNCs shall need to ensure their agents in various countries are upholding the highest standards in employee welfare. This means Audits being carried out and regular reporting to ensure that they are adhering to set standards.
  2. Tighter contractual agreements shall be required by the MNCs to shield themselves from liability especially with regard to indemnities the MNCs are entitled to in regard to liability that arises from their sub-contractors (agents).
  3. Business will now need to evaluate what services they need to outsource and what they can have done in house where they have effective control and are in a position to handle any employee disputes.
Web Hosting
Domain Registration
Website Design