ABOUT THE CASE

The Joseph Saveri Law Firm and its co-counsel Burns Charest filed a second amended complaint against Facebook. The Facebook content moderators’ safe workplace litigation alleges that content moderators responsible for viewing and removing offensive and disturbing videos, images, and broadcasts from Facebook users are suffering from psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are not being protected properly by the social media company.

The firm represents Selena Scola and other plaintiffs who reviewed content for Facebook via various third-party vendors and contractors (e.g., Pro Unlimited, Inc., Accenture LLP, Accenture Flex LLC, and U.S. Tech Solutions, Inc.).

Facebook users post millions of videos and images daily. Some users post content depicting child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide, and murder. To maintain a sanitized platform, maximize its profits, and enhance its public image, Facebook relies on content moderators to view these posts and remove any that violate the company’s terms of use. Plaintiffs allege that they, along with the putative class, witnessed acts of extreme and graphic violence as content moderators for Facebook. As a result of this exposure, plaintiffs allege they developed and suffer from significant psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, including symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, and social anxiety.

In 2015, Facebook helped draft workplace safety standards to protect content moderators from this type of workplace trauma. Such safeguards include providing moderators with robust and mandatory counseling and mental health support; altering the resolution, audio, size, and color of trauma-inducing images; and training moderators to recognize PTSD’s physical and psychological symptoms. Plaintiffs allege, however, that Facebook ignores the very workplace safety standards it helped create, and instead requires its content moderators to work in dangerous conditions that cause debilitating psychological harm. And absent the Court’s intervention, Facebook will continue to avoid its duties to provide a safe workplace for content moderators.

“This case is about protecting the people who protect the public. Content managers are human beings. They are not disposable. The psychological trauma and cognitive and social disorders these workers face are serious. But they are being ignored, and the problems will only grow worse—for the company and for these individuals. It’s our hope and goal that Facebook recognizes its obligations to these workers and creates a safer workplace for them,” said Steven Williams of the Joseph Saveri Law Firm.

The Facebook content moderators’ safe workplace litigation—Scola v. Facebook, Inc.—sought damages, declaratory, injunctive and other equitable relief to protect the interests of plaintiff and the class. It sought an order requiring Facebook to establish a fund to maintain a testing and treatment program for content moderators to receive ongoing medical testing and monitoring, and any necessary medical and psychiatric treatment, until determination is made that their psychological trauma is no longer a threat to their health.

On July 14, 2021, the Court granted final approval of a settlement that provides for substantive workplace changes designed to mitigate the psychological harm that can be caused by routinely viewing objectionable conduct. The award also establishes a $52 million fund for ongoing mental health treatment and other payments to the more than 14,000 class members who work for Facebook vendors in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida.

For further information and updates regarding the case and the settlement, please visit a final settlement-related press release and the Scola v. Facebook, Inc. settlement website.


GAVEL-MONEY

SETTLEMENT TIMELINE

  • 14 July 2021 | The Court granted plaintiffs' renewed motion for final approval of settlement.
  • 21 June 2021 | The Court holds a fairness hearing regarding current settlement status.
  • 14 April 2021 | The Court issued an order granting plaintiff's renewed motion to approve supplemental notice program and preliminary approval of the settlement. 
  • 14 August 2020 | The Court granted preliminary settlement approval.
  • 8 May 2020 | The class filed a preliminary approval motion of settlement with Facebook.

Final approval was granted for an unprecedented $52 million class action settlement on behalf of content moderators who work as contractors for Facebook, according to a July 14, 2021, order entered by the Hon. V. Raymond Swope in San Mateo County Superior Court. The settlement provides for substantive workplace changes designed to mitigate the psychological harm that can be caused by routinely viewing objectionable conduct. The award also establishes a $52 million fund for ongoing mental health treatment and other payments to class members.

"This settlement provides immediate change, and real financial compensation for content moderators. We are very proud that we were able to work with Facebook to reach this result for the content moderators," said Steven Williams of the Joseph Saveri Law Firm, one of the lead counsel for the class.

Co-lead counsel Daniel Charest of Burns Charest said, "This groundbreaking litigation fixed a major workplace problem involving developing technology and its impact on real workers who suffered in order to make Facebook safer for its users. Ultimately, the settlement is a great result for the class members."

More than 14,000 content moderators work for Facebook's vendors in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. The workplace improvements stemming from this settlement will apply to any U.S.-based content moderation operations for Facebook. The settlement is a result of a September 2018 lawsuit that alleged that those who performed content moderation work on behalf of Facebook were denied protection against severe psychological damage and other injuries, which can result from repeated exposure to graphic content, such as child sexual abuse, beheadings, terrorism, and animal cruelty.

This settlement agreement with Facebook provides minimum monetary relief of $1,000 to every member of the class. Class members diagnosed with specified conditions because of their work reviewing graphic and objectionable content will receive a further payment that can be used to obtain medical treatment for that condition. In addition, class members diagnosed with a specified condition may be eligible for additional damage awards of up to $50,000 each, dependent upon the amount remaining in the settlement fund after screening and treatment payments.

Above and beyond this compensation, Facebook has agreed to take significant measures to provide U.S.-based content moderators employed by Facebook's vendors with a safer work environment. These measures include requiring Facebook's vendors to provide coaching sessions with licensed mental health counselors and other mental-health support, as well as enhancing review tools to make content moderators' work safer. In that sense, the settlement protects former, current, and future content moderators.

The lawsuit is Scola v. Facebook Inc., No. 18-CIV05135, filed in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Mateo County. For further information on the case, please visit the Scola v. Facebook, Inc. settlement website at https://contentmoderatorsettlement.com/.


Gavel-on-Book-(3)

SETTLEMENT DISTRIBUTION TIMELINE

  • 14 March 2022 | Deadline for class members to submit completed claim forms
  • 14 October 2021 | Initial $1000 payments to be sent to class members
  • 14 October 2021 | Class forms to be sent to class members
  • 19 SEPTEMBER 2021 | Deadline for Facebook to pay the settlement consideration
  • 14 July 2021 | Final approval of the settlement
  • September 2018 | Lawsuit filed in California state court in Redwood City