India reviews iPhone factory over allegations of ‘not hiring married women’

The Indian government has requested a comprehensive report from the Tamil Nadu state government after media reports indicated that Apple supplier Foxconn was allegedly rejecting married women for iPhone assembly jobs. According to a Reuters investigation, Foxconn excluded married women from positions at its main iPhone plant near Chennai, citing their greater family responsibilities compared to unmarried women. The federal labour ministry stated that the law “clearly stipulates that no discrimination [is] to be made while recruiting men and women workers.”

Foxconn strongly denied allegations of employment discrimination based on marital status. Neither Apple nor the Tamil Nadu state government responded to Reuters’ requests for comments. The BBC also contacted the Tamil Nadu labour department for a response.

Foxconn, the largest supplier of Apple iPhones, established its first factory in Tamil Nadu in 2017 and has since expanded its operations in India. In 2023, it began assembling the iPhone 15 in the state and partnered with Google to manufacture Pixel smartphones earlier this year. The company emphasized that it does not support discrimination in hiring practices. It reported that 25% of the women hired in a recent recruitment drive were married. Additionally, Foxconn noted that 20 job advertisements posted by hiring agencies were removed in 2022 for not meeting their standards.

The discriminatory practices mentioned in the media investigation allegedly occurred in 2023 and 2024. Foxconn stated, “When we see an issue we act, including corrective action up to and including termination of the hiring agency.” Rights activists expressed concern over the reports, given that thousands seek employment at Foxconn’s factories. Reuters interviewed numerous employees and Foxconn hiring agencies for their story, which reported that hiring agents and Foxconn HR sources cited family duties, pregnancy, and higher absenteeism as reasons for not hiring married women at the plant.

This is not the first time Foxconn has faced scrutiny over its labor practices. In 2018, a US-based rights group accused the company of overworking and underpaying temporary workers at its factory in China that produced products for Amazon. In 2022, protests erupted at its iPhone factory in China over unpaid wages.

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