WhatsApp Spanish-Language Moderators Allege Pay Discrimination

WhatsApp Spanish-Language Moderators Allege Pay Discrimination
Photo: Patrick Sison, AP

Over 100 outsourced Spanish-language moderators and customer service representatives for WhatsApp claim that their contract company Accenture has denied them equal pay to other multilingual colleagues in the same building. A group of contractors from Austin, TX and Dublin, Ireland claim that, while Accenture hired them to respond to Spanish language reports all day, they’re told they don’t qualify for the $US2 ($3) per hour premium offered to Arabic or Portuguese speakers.

Moderators and customer service representatives report that they get a base pay of $US16.50 ($21) per hour. Content moderators for WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook have said time and again in media interviews and a $US52 ($67) million lawsuit that the job can cause PTSD. While WhatsApp is a messaging service, moderators review private content reported by users, such as child sex abuse material. A job listing by Accenture at an Austin, TX site specifically solicits bilingual Spanish/English speakers and includes the disclaimer: “In the context of this role, individuals may be exposed to potentially disturbing content, and will need a level of resilience and maturity.” Base pay is not listed.

Facebook’s contractors already fall into the underclass of Facebook workers, earning considerably less than its employees. (Wired reported that as of 2018, the median salary for a Facebook employee was around $US228,651 ($293,268), which comes to over $US100 ($128) per hour.)

“For several years now, Accenture, Facebook, and Whatsapp have denied equal treatment and pay to Spanish language Contingent Workers,” the internally-circulated letter, addressed to WhatsApp, Facebook, and Accenture CEOs reads. “Managers and HR reps for Accenture in Austin, Texas have not only ignored the complaints of discrimination for several years now, but they also actively engaged in ensuring this gross injustice go unacknowledged and unaddressed.” The workers have asked for back pay to cover the missed premium, dating back to when they were hired.

As of this writing, a person familiar with the matter tells Gizmodo that the letter has 100 signatures. They say that around 500 Spanish-speaking moderators and customer service reps work in the Austin facility.

WhatsApp, Accenture, and Facebook were not immediately available for comment. We will update the post when we hear back. You can read the letter in full here:

Letter of Demand for Equal Pay

Mark Zuckerberg (CEO, Facebook)

Will Cathcart (CEO, Whatsapp)

Julie Sweet (CEO, Accenture)

John Arnold (Accenture/Whatsapp Project Manager)

Melody Carson (Accenture/Whatsapp Project Manager)

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg, Mr. Cathcart, Ms. Sweet, Mr. Arnold, Ms. Carson:

We are Contingent Workers, Facebook employees, and public supporters from all around the world.

We, the undersigned, have serious issues with Accenture’s approach to our concerns of rampant discrimination taking place within Contingent Worker teams in Austin, Texas and Dublin, Ireland.

Contingent Workers are at the core of Facebook’s and Accenture’s business models. Contingent Workers are critical to the health and safety of it’s multiple platforms,projects, and products . And yet the companies treat Contingent Workers unfairly and with complete disregard.

Today, we write to demand change.

For several years now, Accenture, Facebook, and Whatsapp have denied equal treatment and pay to Spanish language Contingent Workers.

It is an insult for companies like Facebook and Accenture to publicly champion diversity, but yet fail to deliver this to its own workers.

Managers and HR reps for Accenture in Austin, Texas have not only ignored the complaints of discrimination for several years now, but they also actively engaged in ensuring this gross injustice go unacknowledged and unaddressed.

We say this blatant act of racism and discrimination towards its own essential workers needs to end now.

We demand the hourly language premium offered to bilingual hires of all languages ALSO be offered to the Spanish language.

This includes all Spanish language positions within our teams:

Agents, Sr SMEs, SMEs, Sr QAs, QAs, Jr QAs, Trainers, TLAs, TLs, Sr TLs, etc. (hereby know as Spanish language workers).

We also demand that any and all Spanish language workers be issued retro-pay for the language premium pay they have missed since their date of hire to be paid immediately.

We look forward to your public response.

Very sincerely yours,

The Workers of Accenture, Facebook, and our supporters.