Final approval has been granted for an unprecedented $52 million class action settlement on behalf of content moderators who work as contractors for Facebook according to an order entered by the Hon. V. Raymond Swope in San Mateo County Superior Court, plaintiffs announced yesterday. 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. Filed in California state court in Redwood City in September 2018, the lawsuit 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/.