An iPhone plant in India reportedly avoided hiring married women

Render of an iPhone and female workers.
Digital Trends

Apple — and its contract manufacturer, Foxconn — don’t have a particularly stellar track record with labor rights and affording workers the best conditions to make arguably the most premium products in their respective segments. According to a fresh investigation, the hiring practices at the Foxconn unit that assembles iPhones in India discriminated against married women, citing reasons like women “have babies after marriage” and “many issues post-marriage.”

Reuters visited the company’s plant in Sriperumbudur over 20 times in just over a year, speaking to former employees and candidates seeking to work at these plants. The news outlet also got access to recruitment documents and other related material. What reporters came across was a stunning tale of discrimination against married women.

This isn’t the first time that the manufacturing of iPhones has been linked with gross violations of basic worker rights and amenities. An investigation by Rest of World from January 2023, titled “iPhones are made in hell,” highlighted the terrible working conditions at a Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, China, where taking toilet breaks was a luxury, labors were strictly monitored, and humiliation was part of the job.

In November 2023, China Labor Watch also unearthed stories of “labor rights violations, including forced overtime, recruitment discrimination, and sexual harassment” at Foxconn’s Chengdu, China, facility.

The latest Reuters report is the latest in a long line of similar labor woes at iPhone assembly plants, but this won’t be the first time that a perilous working situation for workers has been reported from India, which is being seen as Apple’s next big market for sales and production after China.

Outside view of an Apple store.

In 2021, Reuters reported similar stories about poor conditions, including overflowing dorms without flush toilets and worms in food. “People living in the hostels always had some illness or the other — skin allergies, chest pain, food poisoning,” one of the workers was quoted as saying.

The Rest of World report highlighted the problem of low salaries that were “barely enough to cover rent and food costs.” As per the latest Reuters report, women were systematically left out of the hiring process at Foxconn’s iPhone factory.

“We didn’t get the jobs as we both are married,” one of the interviewed female applicants was quoted as saying. A former human resource executive mentioned that this objectionable rule, which potentially violates local labor laws, was communicated orally.

The incidents of discrimination against married women reportedly transpired between 2023 and 2024. Foxconn and Apple told Reuters that they have since fixed the issues in the hiring process without offering specific details about similar incidents that happened in 2022.

The contract manufacturing partner further added that in its latest round of hiring, it included approximately 25% of women who are paid an average wage of roughly $200 per month.

Notably, some women had to lie about their marital status and accordingly get rid of their jewelry, which could be a telltale sign of their marital status. So far, no legal action has been initiated into the alleged discrimination against married women at these iPhone production factories.