The unacknowledged trauma of
Content Moderator Compensation Claim Form
Employees file lawsuit Against Facebook and it's Service Providers
Facebook operates in several parts of the world including but not limited to Europe, Greece, Texas and Germany. It uses service providers such as CPL Resources and Accenture that provides content moderation services. Content moderators employed by these service providers are suing both the service provider and Facebook for damages and personal injuries. They claimed that they acquired PTSD, depression and anxiety after seeing the distressing content.
Interviews with employees revealed moderators review content illustrating animal cruelty, beheading, bestiality, drug abuse, extreme violence, gambling, pornography, sexual assault and terrorism. One employee named Chris Gray who started working as a content moderator in July 2017 said he witnessed incidents where a man uploaded a video of himself shooting an elderly stranger on the street and shortly after, saw a live-streamed incident of a Thai man murdering his daughter. He claimed this caused him to suffer from anxiety and PTSD. Another employee by the name of Sean Burke said: “My first day on the job, I witnessed someone being beaten to death with a plank of wood with nails in it and repeatedly stabbed”, and thereafter mentioned he witnessed content portraying child sexual abuse and bestiality which caused psychological trauma and PTSD.
Moderators sought damages for personal injuries sparked by the distressing content during their employment with CPL Resources. Under section 17 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003, “if a plaintiff’s injury consists of psychological damage that would be difficult to assess by the board, it can permit for the claim to be pursued through the courts.” Diane Treanor a solicitor with Coleman Legal based in Dublin and who is representing the moderators said: “The Personal Injuries Assessment Board has commenced authorising the issuing of High Court proceedings against Facebook.”
The work schedule is tight and limits social interaction between staff. Although moderators are part of teams in open-plan offices, the virtual space breeds feelings of isolation among employees. This amplifies the negative impact of the content on workers. Moderators receive random tickets in the form of texts, images or videos they react on. The process constantly repeats, generating new tickets for employees while being monitored by management. One employee said, “There are grades of decision making, and if you get it wrong by just a little bit it still counts as a mistake, and that counts against your quality score, and you might be fired. You’re not just looking at it objectively; “The Personal Injuries Assessment Board has commenced authorising the issuing of High Court proceedings against Facebook.”
Facebook provided a statement saying, “We recognise this review work can be difficult, and we work closely with our partners to ensure that the people who do this work are supported. We require everyone who reviews content for Facebook go through an in-depth, multi-week training program on our Community Standards and have access to extensive psychological support to ensure their wellbeing. This includes 24/7, on-site support with trained practitioners, an on-call service, and access to private healthcare from the first day of employment. We are also employing technical solutions to limit their exposure to graphic material as much as possible. This is an important issue, and we are committed to getting this right.” However, several employees claim the mental health resources and training provided was inadequate.
Facebook and its service providers began distributing a document to employees wherein it acknowledges the work its employees do could cause PTSD. The document instructed employees to: “disclose any negative mental health fluctuations to management”, that indicates that they are aware that their workplace is unsafe for selected employees. The document also states, “I understand the content I will be reviewing may be disturbing. It is possible that reviewing such content may negatively influence my mental health, and it could even lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I will take full advantage of the WeCare program and seek additional mental health services if needed. I will tell my supervisor/or my HR People Adviser if I believe that the work is negatively affecting my mental health. I understand how important it is to monitor my own mental health, particularly since my psychological symptoms are primarily only apparent to me.” It continues saying, “If I believe I may need any type of healthcare services beyond those provided by Accenture, or if I am advised by a counsellor to do so, I will seek them.” “Strict adherence to all the requirements in this document is mandatory, and Failure to meet the requirements would amount to serious misconduct and for Accenture, employees may warrant disciplinary action up to and including termination,” reads the document.
After providing a statement and distributing the document to its employees, Facebook and its service providers refused to comment on the timeline of the documents’ delivery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does my Employer owe me a duty of care for psychological injuries?
Where it is reasonably foreseeable that an employee is working under such pressure that could cause mental health issues, you employer owes you a duty to take reasonable steps to address these issues.
Once a duty of care is established and you as an employee have sufferent a psycological inusry as a result of your employer’s negligence you can take a claim for injuries suffered.
Do I have the same rights and safeguards being a third-party employee?
An employer is legally required to provide yo with a safe place of work and a safe system of work. Historically agency workers were treated in an entirely different manner to those workers who were hired directly into the workforce. Whilst the employment agency is the employer, the company is also respomsoble for breaches of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.
Your right to being protected under Health and Safety Regulations are the responsibility of both the company company where you are doing the temporary work and the agency.
I was previously employed to review graphic content that caused me psychological injuries, however, I was not aware at the time that the content I reviewed had caused psychological injuries, can I take a case against my employer now?
A person has two years from the date they become aware they have been injured in which they can make a claim for compensation. It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you can take a claim that will not be statue barred.
How do I know if I have suffered a psychological injury?
Psychological injuries are not always immediately obvious and only become evident over a period of time. It is important that you are correctly diagnosed with a medically recognised psychological illness/Injury.
Each case is unique and the effect of psychological injuries or PTSD will wary with each individuals.
Costs-I don't have any resources to fund my case, how much will it cost me and how can I take a claim?
It is important to note that no solicitor’s fee may be calculated as a percentage of any award or settlement you receive. Any fees calculated by your solicitor must be calculated as a representation of any work carried on your case. The team at Coleman Legal are supportive in every way of your case and we are aware of a positive outcome for commercial content moderators in the US. We will NOT CHARGE you legal fees if your case is unsuccessful. It is important to note that you may be liable for the other side’s legal defence or any costs such as medical fees for reports, or other costs for exsperts reports, etc. If you case is successful in court or settled out of court, you will then have to pay legal fees.
EU Content Moderators- I am not based in Ireland, however, I am a content moderator working for a third-party agency who assign us work under the direction of a contractor where their headquarters are based elsewhere in Europe, can I take a case?
EU Citizens and residents who were working as content moderators in an EU country may take their case through the Irish Courts once the headquarters are based in Ireland.
What are my rights as a current employee of the contractor or a third-party agency?
Irish Law safeguards the rights of employees, and these include a facility to make a claim for compensation againts your current employer where they have failed in their duty of care towards you. Employers have a duty to protect their employees from injury and provide a safe place of work. when you have suffered an injury as a result of stress in the workplace you can make a personal injury compensation against your employer.
Will the current Covid-19 pandemic prevent me from taking my claim or cause delays to my claim?
Covid-19 has affected everybody. We are fully operational during covid-19 crisis. We continue to receive instuructions throughout Europe. Our services are being conducted over the phone and with video calling to ensure the safety of our clients while providing minimal disruption to our services.
Content moderator compensation claim
If you are a Content Moderator suffering from mental or psychological trauma caused by your job, Coleman Legal urges you to speak to an experienced solicitor. Confidentiality will be given utmost priority.
84 Talbot Street, Dublin 1
1800 844 104