Meta Platforms has lost a bid to suspend proceedings at the Labour Court in which Facebook content moderators are battling their sacking.
Even though interim orders are in place suspending their redundancy, Meta has tried to have the matter dismissed, citing jurisdiction issues but the court has declined.
Meta moved to the court of appeal seeking to suspend any further proceedings in the Nairobi Employment and Labour Relations Court pending the determination of an intended appeal against the ruling delivered on March 20 this year by Justice Nduma Nderi.
Judge Nderi on the said date restrained Meta from implementing the redundancy notice issued to Facebook content moderators on January 10 pending the determination of a matter they had filed.
Meta was also barred from replacing the Facebook content moderators.
The company attempted to have the matter dismissed by filing objections to the suit but the same was declined.
They had cited a lack of jurisdiction by the Labour Court to handle the matter.
But Nderi declined, saying the dispute arose from an employer and employee dispute. He extended the interim orders he had issued.
Aggrieved, Meta appealed. But Court of Appeal Judges Daniel Musinga, Kathurima M’Inoti and John Mativo have also dismissed their application dated May 5, 2023.
The judges said a stay of proceedings pending hearing and determination of an appeal against a temporary ruling should only be allowed if the circumstances are such that the disputed order will significantly harm Meta if the matter proceeds.
They said it is the duty of every court to eliminate situations that may unnecessarily cause delays in the administration of justice.
The judges observed an attempt by Meta to persuade the court that Judge Nderi was biased against them because he recused himself after pronouncing the disputed order.
However, the judges observed that Nderi never recused himself from the case as alleged.
They said the judge is on record stating that he was proceeding on leave and therefore he passed the file to the presiding judge of the court for re-allocation to another judge.
During the hearing, Meta argued that they are foreign entities incorporated outside Kenya, and therefore the trial court has no jurisdiction over them.
They also argued that being foreigners, the constitution of Kenya does not apply to them.
However, the appellate judges said the ground that the constitution does not apply to Meta because they are foreigners is not arguable and cannot stand.
“To our mind, the constitution binds every person within the republic and obligates every person to observe and respect it,”
“There is nothing to show that in the absence of stay, the applicant’s ability to defend the said petition will be hindered,” said the appellate bench.
This means the main petition before the Labour Court will proceed with the interim orders still in place.