Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on Wednesday said it has asked the Tamil Nadu state to submit a “detailed report” after a Reuters story revealed that Apple supplier Foxconn rejected married women from iPhone assembly jobs in the country.

Job aspirants talk with a hiring agent outside the Foxconn factory, where workers assemble iPhones for Apple, in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai, India, (Palani Kumar/Reuters)

In a statement calling for the probe, the federal government’s Ministry of Labour and Employment cited the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976, saying the law “clearly stipulates that no discrimination (is) to be made while recruiting men and women workers.”

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The ministry said it has requested a detailed report from the Labour Department of Tamil Nadu, site of a major iPhone factory where Reuters uncovered Foxconn’s practice of shunning married women from jobs. The Labour Ministry said it also directed the office of the Regional Chief Labour Commissioner to provide a “factual report.”

Apple and Foxconn did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the government statement. The Tamil Nadu state government did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment outside office hours.

Why did Foxconn not hire married women?

A Reuters investigation published on Tuesday found that Foxconn has systematically excluded married women from jobs at its main India iPhone plant near Chennai in Tamil Nadu state, on the grounds they have more family responsibilities than their unmarried counterparts.

Foxconn hiring agents and HR sources interviewed by Reuters cited family duties, pregnancy and higher absenteeism as reasons why Foxconn did not hire married women at the plant.

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The Ministry of Labour “takes note of media reports on married women not being allowed to work at Foxconn India Apple iPhone plant,” the statement said.

Earlier, in response to questions from Reuters for its Tuesday report, Apple and Foxconn acknowledged lapses in hiring practices in 2022 and said they had worked to address the issues. All the discriminatory practices documented by Reuters at the Sriperumbudur plant, however, took place in 2023 and 2024. The two companies didn’t address the 2023 and 2024 incidents.

Apple said that “when concerns about hiring practices were first raised in 2022 we immediately took action and worked with our supplier to conduct monthly audits to identify issues and ensure that our high standards are upheld,” adding that all its suppliers, including Foxconn, hire married women.

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Foxconn said it “vigorously refutes allegations of employment discrimination based on marital status, gender, religion or any other form.”

Lawyers told Reuters Indian law doesn’t bar companies from discriminating in hiring based on marital status. Apple’s and Foxconn’s policies, however, prohibit such hiring practices in their supply chains.