Social Media Moderators Court Case
All employers have a duty of care to employees to provide a safe place of work, a safe system of work and to prevent harm. Recently, a large group of Moderators have come together to explore their rights and the obligations that others have to them. A Court action on behalf of Moderators is proposed to be taken in Dublin Ireland, which is the European headquarters for many companies who utilise the services of Moderators.
Who are content moderators?
The daily work of a content moderator in Europe typically involves reviewing user-generated content on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to ensure that it complies with the platform’s community guidelines. This can include reviewing text posts, photos, and videos, as well as comments and messages that have been flagged by users or identified by automated systems.
The work can be emotionally challenging, as moderators may be exposed to graphic or disturbing content, including hate speech, violence, and sexual abuse. Moderators must make quick decisions about whether to remove or allow content based on complex guidelines, and they often have to deal with large volumes of content under tight deadlines. Research has shown that content moderation can lead to psychological distress and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in some cases.
A 2020 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that content moderators who had been exposed to a high volume of disturbing content were more likely to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
This has led to increased calls for better support and mental health resources for content moderators, as well as for social media companies to take more responsibility for the well-being of their moderation teams.
Content moderators rights?
Content moderators have the right to a safe and secure work environment, and employers have a legal obligation to provide such an environment. In recent years, content moderators have become increasingly vocal about their rights, and there have been calls for greater protections for those who work in this field.
In Dublin, Ireland, which serves as the European headquarters for many tech companies, a court action has been proposed on behalf of content moderators to explore their legal rights and the obligations that others have towards them. Content moderators may be employed directly by tech companies or by third-party outsourced contractors, and it is important for all employers to take responsibility for the well-being of their workers. By taking legal action, content moderators are seeking to ensure that they are provided with adequate support and resources to deal with the emotional toll of their work, as well as to raise awareness about the importance of creating safe and healthy work environments for all employees.
Who do you take a Legal case for psychological trauma against?
In most cases, Facebook moderators are hired by a third-party company that has a partnership with Facebook to put in place the moderation services. If this is so then any compensation case could be filed against all organisations involved. During the subsequent legal case, it will be decided which entity did not have acceptable working conditions for the moderators to deal with. Your legal representative solicitor will guide you in relation to the best course of action for you to take against these groups.
Submitting compensation claims for psychological trauma
You must speak with a solicitor familiar with claims like this before you begin making a claim for psychological trauma caused by your working conditions and targets. A qualified solicitor will advise you of the correct course of action to adapt for your compensation claim. You should get in touch with a qualified legal expert as soon as you can so you begin your compensation claim for you. Currently, there are a number of Facebook moderators proceeding with similar actions in different jurisdictions that may be easier to join together.
As EU Citizens employed as content moderators throughout Europe by corporations with European headquarters that are based in Ireland, moderators can access justice through the Irish Courts. If you are unsure whether you can bring your claim in Ireland, contact our dedicated team and we can discuss your particular circumstances with you. Our dedicated team has a collective experience of over 100 years in multi-party action and we are ready to advise and assist you with your 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.
Coleman Legal LLP
84 Talbot Street, Dublin 1
I'm still working for my employer. Does this affect my claim?
Irish Law safeguards the rights of employees to make a claim for compensation against your current employer where they have failed in their duty of care towards you. It is illegal for your employer to fire you, deny you promotion, or otherwise discriminate against you because you are making a claim against them.
I am not based in Ireland, and my employer is not an Irish company. How can I claim?
You may take your case through the Irish Courts if you are, or were:
- an employee of, OR a contractor for, a multi-national company with headquarters in Ireland, including the European HQ of an American company, AND
- working as a content moderator in an EU country.
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 work as a contractor, employed by an agency, not by the company whose content I was moderating. Can I still make a claim?
Whilst the employment agency is the employer, the company which controls your work and working environment is also responsible for breaches of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.
Your rights under Health and Safety Regulations are the responsibility of both the companies, and Coleman Legal will make claims on your behalf against each of them.
My employer warned me in advance that I might have to review disturbing content, and that it might lead to PTSD. Can I still make a claim?
No. The larger the numbers joining the case the better for all. As in all cases, it is up to the Solicitors to guide the case through the courts to ensure that all of the participants are fully and properly represented.
In the meantime, it has been agreed that all of the other cases within the group will effectively be on hold. This is a significant achievement because, once a summons has been issued in the High Court and served on each of the Defendants, no other steps in the litigation will occur pending the outcome of the lead cases.
Following much negotiation with the other parties, it has also been agreed that the normal costly and time consuming rules for physical service can be dispensed with and that summonses can be served electronically. The Defendants have also agreed that they will not come on record or take any active steps, which eliminates the costs risk for the Plaintiffs such as yourself, should the lead cases be unsuccessful.
If the lead cases go to trial, the Decision of the Lead cases will be binding on those in the group. Similarly, if the lead cases are settled, any Settlement or Redress Scheme will apply to the members of the case.
How do I know if I have suffered a psychological injury?
Each case is unique and the effect of psychological injuries such as PTSD will vary with each individual. Many content moderators’ symptoms are not immediately recognised, and they may only become evident over a period of time.
It is important that psychological illness/injury is correctly diagnosed by a qualified professional. Your GP will be able to give you a preliminary diagnosis, and arrange for evaluation by a specialist to help you begin on your journey to recovery.
What About My NDA?
Many big technology companies in Ireland use non-disclosure agreements to intimidate staff and discourage them from vindicating their rights. Ireland has very strong whistleblower protections and employee rights, and enforcing these NDAs would be very difficult under Irish law, particularly as your right to access justice through the courts takes precedence over any claimed right to secrecy.
If I don't have any resources to fund my case, how can I take a claim?
The team at Coleman Legal LLP is fully supportive in every way of your case. We successfully represent many hundreds of clients, moderators, and others, all of whom have been able to bring a case without the worry and stress of financing it. We can help you.
We are aware that a similar case in the US was recently settled with a positive outcome for the content moderators. If your case is successful in court or settled out of court, you will then have to pay reasonable legal fees.
It is important to note that no solicitor’s fee may be calculated as a percentage of any award or settlement you receive. Also, if a litigant loses their case they may be liable for the other side’s legal defence costs, including medical fees or other expert reports, etc. We will advise you in advance should this become a likelihood.
What obligations does my employer have regarding psychological injuries?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, recognises PTSD as a result of exposure to graphic content.
Where it is reasonably foreseeable that an employee is working under conditions that could cause mental health issues, your employer owes you a duty to take reasonable steps to address these issues. Once a duty of care is established, if you as an employee have suffered a psychological injury as a result of your employer’s negligence, you can claim compensation for the harm suffered.
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, and the courts are still operating. We continue to receive instructions from moderators 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.
I have left my job, and didn't realise at the time that the content I reviewed had caused psychological injuries. Can I take a case against my employer now?
After you become aware of the harm you have suffered, you must make a claim for compensation within two years. It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible, to ensure your claim doesn’t pass this statute of limitations.