At the Richardson, Texas office of Genpact, a Meta contractor, Spanish-speaking moderators told BuzzFeed News they’ve been required to report to the office since April 2021, despite the emergence of Delta and Omicron that caused a spike in COVID infections. across the United States. Throughout this time, they said, moderators reviewing English content were allowed to roam the desktop in three-month rotations.
“Being in the office…has been nothing short of a nightmare,” one moderator said.
BuzzFeed News spoke with three members of Genpact’s so-called Mexican Market Team who described a pattern of unfair treatment of Spanish-speaking moderators. All of these people spoke on condition of anonymity because Genpact requires them to sign nondisclosure agreements and they feared for their jobs. They said that in addition to showing up in the office for the past nine months when their English-speaking counterparts could work from home, Spanish-speaking moderators are held to unrealistic performance standards and not paid to work in two languages, which they say is more time-consuming. Additionally, they face pressures from running a Facebook Marketplace that has long been criticized as underserved amid the threat of active COVID cases.
Genpact spokeswoman Danielle D’Angelo declined to comment on any specific claims from Spanish-speaking moderators, including the claim that its Mexican market team was not allowed to work from home while d other teams were rotated.
“We want to emphasize that employee safety is our top priority and has been and will remain so throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” D’Angelo said. “Any decision to return to the office that is made based on customer needs is made with best safety and health practices in place and in accordance with local regulations. At all of our workplaces, including our office in Richardson, TX, we follow best-in-class safety standards, which include frequent antigen testing.
On Thursday, officials at Genpact’s Richardson site reportedly told the company’s agents that it had abandoned plans to reopen at 50% capacity on January 31 because of the Omicron variant. Spanish-speaking moderators said this change does not affect them and they will continue to report to the office. Genpact declined to comment on when it intends to reopen and at what capacity.
In late June, Genpact management sent an email to one of the English-language moderation groups allowed to rotate out of the office, thanking them for their “continued dedication and responsiveness.” The email said they would resume working from home on July 26.
Spanish-speaking moderators told BuzzFeed News that they had not received any such email. A few days after English-speaking moderators were told they could go home, “[managers] told us that we were a specialized queue and that our work could not be done outside the office,” said a host, noting that the Mexican market often involves moderating a deluge of particularly graphic content. Facebook declined to comment on complaints from its Spanish-speaking moderators, referring BuzzFeed News to Genpact — a strategy it has used time and time again to address the concerns of people who make a living moderating Facebook content.
Since returning to the Richardson office, employees have become increasingly fearful for their safety. Moderators told BuzzFeed News that 30 cases of COVID were reported to staff by management in December and no updates have been given since then. Meanwhile, workers say co-workers continue to test positive for COVID, citing two cases on one floor last week. Genpact declined to comment on the number of COVID cases in its office or how often it reports those cases to staff.
On December 22, a dozen Spanish-speaking moderators left the office en masse after learning from the grapevine that a sick colleague may have exposed them to the virus. Since the workers claim that Genpact does not currently offer paid sick leave to its moderators, they used the PTO to self-isolate. Genpact declined to say whether its moderators receive paid sick leave.
Although named after the Mexican market, this team also reviews Facebook and Instagram content posted in Spanish by users across much of Latin America, moderators said. In 2018 there were 84 million Facebook users in Mexico, and tens of millions more using WhatsApp. In Latino and Spanish-speaking communities, Facebook has been a powerful disinformation vector, shaping public perception on topics such as COVID, electoral politics and Black Lives Matter. But researchers who study misinformation told the Guardian that compared to English posts, harmful content posted in Spanish is removed less frequently.