India Investigates After Report Claims Apple Supplier ‘Excluded Married Women’

Image credit: Foxconn

Indian government investigates after report claims Apple iPhone supplier Foxconn ‘systematically’ excludes married women

The Indian federal government is investigating a report that a major Apple supplier in the state of Tamil Nadu has been “systematically” excluding married women from jobs at an assembly plant due to their “family responsibilities”.

The government has asked for a detailed report from Tamil Nadu authorities following a Reuters investigation claiming that Foxconn, Apple’s biggest supplier of iPhones, excluded married women at its main India iPhone plant near Chennai in order to reduce “risk factors” such as their responsibilities for their children.

The report cited a former human-resources executive at Foxconn India as saying executives verbally conveyed the recruitment rules to hiring agencies who were tasked with the recruitment process.

“Risk factors increase when you hire married women,” said the former executive.

Image credit: Foxconn
Image credit: Foxconn

Hiring practices

Hiring agents and HR sources cited “family duties, pregnancy and higher absenteeism as reasons why Foxconn did not hire married women at the plant”, the report said.

Some women said that when arriving for job interviews they were stopped at the plant’s gate by a security officer who asked if they were married, and turned them away if they said they were.

“Even the auto-rickshaw driver who took us from the bus stand to the Foxconn facility told us they wouldn’t take married women,” said one woman who applied for a job after seeing an advertisement on WhatsApp.

Indian federal law prohibits discrimination in recruitment.

Foxconn established its first Tamil Nadu plant in 2017 and has been aggressively expanding operations in the country as Apple and other tech firms seek to diversify production away from China.

India expansion

The company began producing the iPhone 15 in the state last year and began making Google Pixel smartphones there earlier this year.

The company said it “vigorously refutes allegations of employment discrimination based on marital status” and that it does not stand for discrimination in hiring or recruitment, saying 25 percent of women hired in a recent round of recruitment were married.

It said it acted on issues with hiring agencies and had removed 20 agency ads in 2022 because they “did not meet our standards”.

The issues reported by Reuters allegedly took place in 2023 and 2024.

Foxconn’s biggest plant in China was disrupted by worker protests in late 2022 as it struggled to maintain iPhone production amidst a Covid-19 outbreak.