Discrimination in the Hiring Process
Our August 1996 report, "No Guarantees: Sex Discrimination in Mexicos Maquiladora Sector,"41 documented widespread pregnancy-based sex discrimination in five cities in Mexico: Tijuana, in Baja California state; Chihuahua, in Chihuahua state; and Matamoros, Reynosa, and Río Bravo, in Tamaulipas state. A follow-up investigation conducted from May through November 1997 revealed that unfettered, widespread, blatant pregnancy-based sex discrimination persists in Tijuana, Reynosa, and Río Bravo. Moreover, in Ciudad Juárez, an area not covered in the previous report, we found that pregnancy-based discrimination is also rampant. In all four cities, female job applicants routinely undergo various forms of pregnancy screening as a precondition for employment and, once hired, those who became pregnant face the prospect of being forced to resign because of their pregnancy. Where parent company information could be found,42 Human Rights Watch wrote to corporations to alert them of our findings; to urge them to stop reported discrimination against female workers and female job seekers; and to invite them to join us in our efforts to guarantee womens equality in the work force (see Appendix E for a list of corporations and their responses).
Pregnancy testing is conducted in several ways, most commonly through urine samplesoften obtained in the course of legal pre-hire medical exams given to job applicants.43 Maquiladora personnel also request information from women applicants about their menses schedule, sexual activity, and use of contraceptives. Pregnant applicants are not hired. In some cases, recently hired women workers are again required to provide proof of pregnancy status by submitting to additional pregnancy tests, often in the form of urine samples or medical exams. Those found to be pregnant are routinely forced to resign. We also found evidence of a particularly disturbing practice, notably that some companies used mandatory sanitary napkin checks to verify their employees non-pregnant status.
Human Rights Watch is also concerned that some maquiladoras may be adopting new and pernicious on-the-job discriminatory practices. Several workers reported knowing of cases in which factories refused to pay women workers required wages during maternity leave, as a condition for the women being allowed to continue working; and others reportedly threatened to refuse to allow women to return to work after maternity leave. We believe the seriousness of these allegations warrants further investigation and attention.
Who Conducts the Exams
Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel in the employ of the maquiladoras directly participate in these exams. Our previous investigation found that maquiladoras used their own medical personnel to examine women applicants or sent women applicants to outside medical facilities for pregnancy and other pre-hire medical examinations. Our most recent research indicates that almost all factories now have on-site clinics, where pregnancy and other examinations are performed. Human Rights Watch recognizes that women workers may sometimes relyon maquiladora infirmaries for reproductive health care information and services. We do not object to the provision of these services, including meeting women workers request for pregnancy tests, per se, so long as such tests are not mandatory and so long as the results are not used to fire or force pregnant workers to resign.
Pregnancy tests and other types of exams are incorporated into the routine medical exams which company-employed doctors and nurses perform on women in the course of the application and hiring processes. Typically, the medical exams, which in one form or another are administered to all job applicants, include vision and blood pressure tests and oral questions posed by medical staff to women as part of establishing their medical history. They include questions about the number of children a woman has; her plans to have more children; whether she has had a miscarriage or abortion; whether she is sexually active or uses birth control; the date she last menstruated; and whether she is pregnant.
Urine specimens are collected from women during the medical exam to test for pregnancy.44 The results of pregnancy tests are usually forwarded to personnel or human resources offices for review by those who make hiring decisions. Many women workers told Human Rights Watch that they were explicitly informed in the course of their medical exam that if their pregnancy test was positive they would not be hired.
In other instances, applicants were required to sign a separate piece of paper stating they were not pregnant, or to sign their names next to their answer to the "Are you pregnant?" question on the application. Also, human resources personnel, in a nonmedical context, simply asked applicants whether they were pregnant and about their menses schedule, sexual activity, and birth control use. Others asked intrusive questions about the applicants sexual activity, birth control use, and most recent date of menstruation.
Cases of Hiring Process Sex Discrimination
The following cases document the widespread use of a variety of techniques, from direct pregnancy testing and physical exams to intrusive personal questions, to determine whether women job applicants were pregnant. In the cases below, in instances in which the medical personnel did not explicitly inform female job applicants that they had to undergo pregnancy exams, the women applicants, without exception, believed that the urine specimens required were primarily for pregnancy analysis:
· Alisa González is eighteen years old. From June to December 1996 she assembled venetian blinds at Grupo Verde45 in Tijuana. Grupo Verdes job application form asked about pregnancy status. It also inquired about whether female applicants had permission from their husbands to work. Her interviewer from the personnel office asked her how soon she was planning to have more children. González worked for Ensambles Hyson46 in Tijuana from June 1992 to July 1994. Someone from the personnel office asked her during her interview if she was pregnant or planning to have children anytime soon.47
· Rafaela Rojas Cruz, twenty-three years old, started working at a Sunbeam-Oster maquiladora in Matamoros in July 1997. She had been working under a three-month probationary contract when her supervisor realized she was pregnant because she was often nauseous. Cruz supervisor asked her whether she was pregnant, and Cruz responded that she thought she was. Cruz supervisor then informed her that at the end of her probationary contract she would not be given another contract. Cruz went to a local union in Matamoros to complain abouther firing and to be sent on another assignment at a maquiladora.48 The union49 delegate said that she could not do anything to help Cruz and refused to send Cruz on assignment because she was pregnant. Cruz said that it was normal practice for the union to refuse to send a pregnant woman to apply for a job. In early November, Cruz then went to another local union50 where they did not know her. She did not tell them she was pregnant. They sent her to apply for a position at the Controlam51 plant in Matamoros, where they make electrical parts for washing machines and for cars. Cruz passed all the pre-hire exams at Controlam except for the pregnancy exam. The nurse there told her that they could not hire her because she was pregnant. Cruz is unemployed and pregnant. She believes that given that both local unions now know she is pregnant she will not be able to find work in the maquiladora sector.52
· Marcela Gallego, thirty-eight years old, assembles telephone batteries for Panasonic in Tijuana.53 When she applied for her job in October 1995, a company nurse gave her a pregnancy exam in the form of a urine sample, even though she informed her that she had been sterilized. A person from personnel interviewed Gallego, asking her if she used birth control, had ever suffered a miscarriage, or was sexually active. The interviewer told her they needed to know if she was pregnant because she would be working with electricity.54
· Ana Rosa Rodríguez, thirty-seven years old, applied for work at a Panasonic factory in Reynosa at the end of October 1997. She was not hired because Panasonic told her that they did not accept women workers who were older than thirty years old (and men who were older than thirty-five years old). On Panasonics application was the question, "Are you pregnant?" Once Panasonic realized Rodríguez age, they did not allow her to proceed in the hiring process.55
· María Guadalupe Tello, eighteen years old, has packed folders into boxes at Industrias Ynos56 plant number twelve in Tijuana since September 1996. One of the questions on the application form was "Are you pregnant?" An interviewer from personnel also asked Tello if she was pregnant or sexually active.57
· Ana-Patricia Santos Armendáriz, twenty-six years old, processes airline tickets at NPC International58 in Ciudad Juárez. A nurse administered a pregnancy test to Santos Armendáriz as part of a medical exam she underwent during her application process. The nurse also asked if she was sexually active, had experienced a miscarriage, and whether she used birth control.59
· María López Márquez, nineteen years old, began working at Siemens Sistemas Automotrices60 in Ciudad Juárez in February 1996. She makes parts for car motors. As a part of the hiring process, a company nurse asked López Márquez to submit to a pregnancy test in the form of a urine sample. She was also asked the date of her last menstruation. López Márquez was hired by Sensus de México61 in Ciudad Juárez in May 1993 to assemble water gauges. She was fifteen years old at the time. During her application process, a company nurse gave her a medical exam that included tests for vision, blood pressure, and pregnancy. The nurse told her that pregnancy tests were given so the company could identify pregnant women and not hire them.62
· Silvia Rodríguez Guereca, eighteen years old, was required to undergo a medical exam that consisted of a pregnancy test before being hired at Siemens Sistemas Automotrices63 in Ciudad Juárez, where she makes parts for car motors. She has worked there since June 1995. The nurse told her they needed her urine for a pregnancy test, and the company doctor conducted the medical exam and the pregnancy test. According to Rodríguez Guereca, approximately ten other women went through the same process that day. Rodríguez Guerecas mother also worked at Siemens Sistemas Automotrices for a year and a half, until January 1997. She, too, was expected to take a pregnancy test when she applied, but the company did not insist when she explained that she had undergone a tubal ligation.64
· Angela Torres Rey is twenty-eight years old and works at Silviana65 in Tijuana sewing computer covers, baby clothes, and camping tents. Before she was hired by Silviana in May 1997, she filled out an application form that inquired, "Are you pregnant?" In addition to signing this form, she was required to sign a second form attesting that she was not pregnant. Torres Rey assembled suitcases at Maquiladora California66 in Tijuana from December 1996 to February 1997. In addition to filling out the application form, she had to sign a separate section stating that she was not pregnant. She resigned in February because she was sick. She was pregnant and did not realize it until after she had resigned.67
· Aurora Rojas Castaña, twenty-eight years old, worked from June to November 1996 making knapsacks at Tijuana Industrial Arcos68 in Tijuana. When she applied, she was not given a pregnancy test, but was required to sign a form stating that she was not pregnant. The company did not explain why women applicants had to sign such a form. Rojas Castaña worked at Douglas Furniture de México69 factory in Tijuana from 1985 to 1989. Before she was hired, a company doctor gave her a medical exam that included checking her vision, blood pressure, and pregnancy status from a urine sample.70
· Manuela Barca Zapata, thirty-six years old, worked at Bell Eléctricos71 in Ciudad Juárez in April 1997. When she applied, a company nurse gave her a medical exam to check her weight, vision, and blood pressure. The exam included a pregnancy test. To ensure that she did not "cheat," Barca Zapata was made to urinate into a cup with the bathroom door open while the female nurse stood outside the door. The doctor asked Barca Zapata about her use of birth control, her last date of menstruation, and if she had ever miscarried or had an abortion. Barca Zapata began working at Berg Electric Intermex Manufactura72 in Ciudad Juárez in March 1997. She assembled parts for telephones, cables, and connectors. When she applied for work she was given a medical exam. The male doctor and his male assistant asked how many children she had, whether she had ever miscarried or aborted, how she "took care of herself" to prevent additional pregnancies, and the date of her last menstruation. They also administered a pregnancy test in the form of a urine exam. The doctor gave the results of the test to the personnel office, and Barca Zapata was given an appointment to be trained. The company clinic in Berg Electric Intermex Manufactura distributes free condoms and birth control pills to workers. Barca Zapata received contraceptive injections from the company nurse upon request. Barca Zapata made harnesses for cars at Río Bravo Eléctricos73 in Ciudad Juárez from August 1996 to January 1997. A company doctor tested her pregnancy from a urine sample as part of her application process.74
· María Elena Gómez, twenty-three years old, began working at Favesa75 in Ciudad Juárez in April 1997. When she first applied, she informed the interviewer in the personnel office that she had a six-month-old baby. The interviewer refused to hire her, explaining that it was because of her baby. Fifteen days later Gómez returned in the evening and applied again. This time, she had an interview with a different person, and although Gómez made note of her baby on the application form, the interviewer did not comment on this fact. During the hiring process a doctor gave her a medical exam during which he examined her abdomen to determine if she was pregnant. Later a personnel officer asked her during the interview whether she was married, had children, and was sexually active. Gómez made car covers at Vestiduras Fronterizas (Vevsa)76 in Ciudad Juárez from January 1996 to February 1997. The hiring process included a medical exam. During the exam, the company doctor asked her the last date she had had sexual relations with her husband. He also asked her to write down the date of her most recent menstruation. The exam also consisted of a urine test for pregnancy and an eye exam.77
· Rigoberta Flores Paloma works in an administrative capacity at Ansell Perry de México78 in Ciudad Juárez. She told us that Ansell Perry de México has a policy that all women applicants for assembly work must undergo a pregnancy exam in the form of a urine sample as a condition for work. Pregnant women are not hired. She has worked at Ansell Perry de México for several years, and to her knowledge, this has always been the practice.79
· Gloria Ibáñez Pérez, twenty-three years old, assembles batteries in the batteries division of Sanyo80 in Tijuana. She has worked there since February 1997. During the interview, a person from personnel asked her if she was pregnant. She answered that she used birth control. A nurse in the company infirmary gave her a medical exam that consisted of a pregnancy test from a urine sample. According to Ibáñez Pérez, about ten other women applied for work with her that day. Ibáñez Pérez worked at Tagit de México81 in Tijuana from November 1996to January 1997 packing boxes of paper bags. The only question the interviewer from personnel asked was whether or not she was pregnant.82
· Rosaria Castillo Paco, thirty years old, has worked at Favesa83 in Ciudad Juárez since August 1996. When she applied for her job, the company doctor administered a pregnancy test in the form of a urine sample, physically examined her abdomen for signs of pregnancy, and inquired about her use of birth control. He did not explain why he asked these questions.84
· Joselyn Cáceres Indayé is nineteen years old. She has been working at SAFT Componentes Técnicos85 in Tijuana assembling material for cellular phones since 1992. Cáceres Indayé was given a pregnancy test in the form of a urine sample before she was hired. Cáceres Indayé stated that all women who apply for work at SAFT must take pregnancy exams. There are no exceptions.86
· In 1996 Rosario de Leon, twenty-four years old, worked sewing clothes at Costuras de Río Bravo.87 A woman doctor there asked her whether she was pregnant during the pre-hire medical exam.88
· Erica Bibiano, twenty-two years old, currently sews clothes in her home in Tijuana. She applied for work at Unisolar89 in December 1996, when she was two months pregnant. A friend advised her that if she answered "yes" to the question, "Are you pregnant?" on the application form, she would not be hired. Bibiano answered "no," but a company nurse still gave her a pregnancy test in the form of a urine sample. The personnel office instructed her to return the next day. When she did, he told her she tested positive for pregnancy and would not be hired. The personnel officer also told her that the company only needed male workers, although Bibiano had seen women hired the previous day. Bibiano did not seek work after this because she feared that she would be given another pregnancy exam. She plans to wait until she has given birth to look again for a job.90
· Laura Yáñez Goya is twenty-nine years old. In May 1997 she began working for Marcos Calidad91 in Tijuana assembling picture frames. When she applied for her job, the secretary in the personnel office asked her whether she was pregnant and told her they did not hire pregnant women. From February to May 1997, Yáñez Goya worked at Microeléctrica de Tijuana92 in Tijuana where she assembled components for computers and televisions. The application process included a medical exam and the company nurse asked if she was pregnant. The secretary in the personnel office and the head of production also asked her if she was pregnant.93
· Rosa Adolfo Suárez is twenty-two years old. Since March 1997 she has worked at Industrial Hase94 in Ciudad Juárez assembling mens clothes. Adolfo Suárez was six months pregnant when she applied for her job. She intentionally looked for work in a maquiladora that did not have an infirmary, believing that maquiladoras without an infirmary would not have the means to test for pregnancy. Although it was very difficult to find such a factory, she did. At Industrial Hase, her interviewer from the personnel office and the application form both asked whether she was pregnant, but she answered no, because she feared they would not hire her. Industrial Hase did not administer a pregnancy exam, and Adolfo Suárez got the job.95
· Ruth Cisneros is twenty years old. She has been working at Panasonics96 battery division in Tijuana since January 1995. When she applied, she filled out an application form that asked, "Are you pregnant?"97
· Elizabet Gonzalo Greco is eighteen years old. She works at Samsung98 in Tijuana where, since November 1996, her job has been to attach screens to televisions. Five other applicants went through the hiring process the day she applied for work at Samsung. During the interview, each was asked about her pregnancy status, sexual activity, and contraceptive use. Gonzalo Greco explained that although medical exams are usually given to applicants, she did not have one because the doctor was not there the day she was hired. Gonzalo Greco worked at ComAir Rotron de México99 in Tijuana from August to October 1996. Her hiring process included an interview with a personnel officer in which she was asked about use of birth control and sexual activity. A company doctor gave her a medical exam that included a pregnancy test in the form of a urine test and a physical examination to check for signs of pregnancy. The doctor asked her when she had last menstruated, if she was sexually active, and whether she used contraception.100
· Metsí Basques, twenty-six years old, has been a materials packer at the Levimex de Baja California101 light switch factory in Tijuana since September 1994. Before she was hired, she filled out an application form that included a question about pregnancy status. A company nurse gave her a medical exam that included a test for pregnancy in the form of a urine sample. Basques says she knew it was a pregnancy test because "everyone knows they [maquiladoras] test for pregnancy."102
· Adriana Salas is forty-one years old. Salas assembled batteries at Sanyo Batteries103 in Tijuana for one month in April 1997. Before she was hired, she filled out an application form that included a question about her pregnancy status. A female nurse administered a pregnancy test in the form of a urine sample. A doctor asked her when she last menstruated, if she was sexually active, and if she used birth control. Salas worked at Tagit de México104 in Tijuana from November 1995 to February 1996 packing bags. The hiring process included a pregnancy test in the form of a urine sample, which personnel officials sent out to an independent lab because there was no doctor on site.105
· Teresa Hernández, forty years old, has worked in the batteries division of Sanyo106 in Tijuana since July 1996 assembling cellular phones and batteries. Her hiring process included a question on the application form about pregnancy. She answered that she had had a hysterectomy. She also had an interview in which she was asked about her pregnancy status. She again explained that she had had an operation.107
· Mariana Vargas is seventeen years old. Vargas began working at Matsushita-Panasonic108 in Tijuana in May 1997. She assembles television controls. She had to undergo a pregnancy test in the form of a urine sample as a condition of employment. A nurse administered the test but did not explain why. One week later, she had an interview with the doctor. Among other questions, he asked her whether she was married, what type of birth control she used, and whether shed ever had a spontaneous or deliberate abortion. Previously in March 1997 she worked for two months cleaning the threads off of clothes at Confecciones Paolas109 in Tijuana. She had been hired to sew, but no sewing positions were immediately available. It was a small factory and there was no pregnancy test, but the woman who interviewed Vargas repeatedly asked her whether she was pregnant, explaining that the company had recently hired a woman who was pregnant even though she said she was not, and that they had "let her go." From Confecciones Paolas the clothes were taken to San Diego and Los Angeles, labeled with such brands as Caroline and iLu. Vargas said she resigned because workers were paid according to the pieces they inspected, and often the owners "paid less" than the workers thought they had earned.110
· Lucy Unamuno Rivera is twenty-five years old and has cut pieces for car seats at Howe de México111 in Ciudad Juárez since October 1996. During the hiring process the company nurse asked her if she was pregnant and when she had last menstruated. Unamuno Rivera worked at Zenco de Chihuahua112 in Ciudad Juárez from 1993 to 1995. She made cabinets for Zenith113 televisions. She was given a pregnancy test in the form of a urine sample when she applied. From 1988 to 1991 Unamuno Rivera made hospital gloves at Promédicos de Juárez114 in Ciudad Juárez. When she applied, she was asked to provide a urine sample for a pregnancy test. Unamuno Rivera began working at RCA Componentes115 in Ciudad Juárez, assembling television components from 1986 to 1988. As a part of the hiring process, a company doctor gave her a medical exam that included a pregnancy test in the form of a urine sample.116
· Liliana Neri, seventeen years old, worked sewing exercise clothes at Industrias Valino117 in Reynosa from January to September 1997. When she applied for work, there was no medical exam, but the factorys nurse asked her whether she was pregnant and when her last period was.118
· Rosa-María Galván, twenty-seven years old, started working at Fabrica Duro119 in Río Bravo in the early 1990s. They assemble decorative shopping and gift bags. When she applied for work there, the company nurse asked her whether she was pregnant, when her last date of menstruation was, and whether she was sexually active.120
· Beatriz Ortiz González, seventeen, started working for Zenith121 in Reynosa assembling television parts on June 18, 1997. The nurse at the factory asked her whether she was sexually active and when she last menstruated. Later, during an interview with someone from personnel, González was told that she should not get pregnant because the company did not want pregnant workers.122
· Marcela Rodríguez, thirty years old, worked at P.C.M. México 123 in Reynosa from November 1996 until May 1997, assembling harnesses for cars. A doctor there asked her for a urine sample so that he could find out whether she was pregnant. She informed the doctor that she had undergone a tubal ligation. He required the sample anyway.124
· Sara Ramírez Lobo, eighteen years old, began working at Controles de Reynosa125 in January 1996. She assembles thermostats for air conditioners. The doctor at the factory told her they needed a urine sample in order to do a pregnancy exam. The doctor explained that hiring pregnant workers contravened the internal regulations of the plant.126
· Yaneth García Esperanza, nineteen years old, started working on August 11, 1997, assembling keyboard pads for cellular telephones and computer key boards at Shin Etsu127 maquiladora in Reynosa. A company doctor required her to provide a urine sample as a part of the pre-hire medical examination, as well as to answer questions about her menstrual cycle, sexual activity, and birth control use.128
· Maribel García, twenty-four years old, has worked at Samsung Electro Mecánico129 in Tijuana since October 1996. Before she was hired, a nurse gave her a medical exam in the company infirmary. The medical exam included a pregnancy test in the form of a urine sample. During the interview, a personnel officer asked García how many children she had, who would take care of them while she worked, and whether she used birth control or had ever had a miscarriage or abortion. She was required to provide the date of her last menstruation. The interviewer explained that it was inconvenient for the company to hire pregnant women and to have to pay their maternity leave wages and that pregnant women slowed down the production process.130
A Questionable Change in General Motors Policy
Even in instances where corporations pledged to change their discriminatory hiring policies, evidence abounds of apparent violations of that policy. After Human Rights Watch first reported pregnancy-based sex discrimination in its factories, General Motors pledged to stop conducting mandatory employment-related pregnancy testing in itsmaquiladoras.131 As its reason for the policy change, General Motors cited its corporate principles but did not admit that this practice was in violation of the Mexican federal labor code. In an April 1997 interview with Human Rights Watch, General Motors officials indicated that their new policy had been fully implemented in all their Mexican maquiladoras as of March 1, 1997. However, in an October 1997 research trip to Reynosa and Río Bravo, in the state of Tamaulipas,132 Human Rights Watch easily found almost a dozen General Motors workers hired well after March 1, 1997, who had to produce urine samples for what the women job applicants believed was a pregnancy exam and who also in this context had to answer invasive questions about sexual activity, contraceptive use, and menses schedule as a part of the employment process. We were able to find ten133 cases that appear to violate the new policy. The women ranged in age between eighteen and twenty-nine years old. All worked as assemblers. They began working at General Motors-owned maquiladora Delnosa in Reynosa between April and September 1997. In each case, as a part of the pre-hire medical examination, the company doctor asked the woman applicant when she last menstruated, whether she was sexually active, and whether she was using birth control. The doctor also required a urine sample of each applicant.134
General Motors commitment to stopping pregnancy discrimination in its Mexican plants can be best judged by the measures it has taken to ensure compliance. To date, those measures appear to fall far short of effective. When we met with General Motors in April 1997, they had no concrete plan to monitor compliance with the new policy. At that meeting, General Motors officials indicated that they had held meetings with their personnel heads all over Mexico in January 1997 and that those personnel administrators understood that such discriminatory practices violated General Motors commitment to fairness in the workplace. General Motors officials also indicated that they thought compliance would be very high, given that the personnel managers largely supported the policy change.135
General Motors plan for ensuring compliance with its new policy seemed ad hoc, consisting of announcing it in their plant magazine and setting up a toll free telephone number to receive complaints about plant practices. To assure real compliance, General Motors would have needed to devise a long-term, well-publicized plan based on input from a variety of sources, including the women workers themselves, border area NGOs, and General Motors managers, on what measures needed to be taken to implement effectively the new policy.
Human Rights Watch urged General Motors to adopt a more transparent and monitorable policy that might include, among other things, communicating their policy change to local NGOs so that local NGOs could keep them apprised of apparent violations; posting signs in their personnel offices (or wherever applicants pick up applications) announcing that pregnancy testing or refusal to hire applicants based on pregnancy status was prohibited; at somereasonable interval after the date by which the policy should have been fully implemented, interviewing personnel directors and review hiring files to determine whether the policy was being respected; posting notices guaranteeing confidentiality and encouraging workers (and job seekers) to report violations of the new policy; and designating and training a person in each personnel office to receive and investigate complaints about violations of the new policy effective.
Interviews with General Motors workers in Reynosa and Río Bravo in October 1997 and in Matamoros in November 1997 suggest that General Motors has taken some initial steps to inform women workers that their employment status would not be adversely affected if they became pregnant after being hired. Some women we interviewed had seen signs posted in bathrooms and an article in a magazine published by General Motors-owned maquiladoras indicating that women should not fear becoming pregnant. In June 1997 a toll free number had been set up to receive work-related complaints of all variety.136 Nevertheless, few of Human Rights Watchs recommendations have been implemented. For example, General Motors has yet to announce its policy change publicly. The result is that only those working within General Motors (and as of February 1998, job applicants) know of the policy change. No specific person in each plant has been designated to receive and investigate complaints about violations of the new policy. There is no systematic spot checking of the hiring process. There is, apparently, no monitoring of the number of pregnancy exams ordered by maquiladora infirmaries.
Based on the eleven interviews we conducted, we have serious concerns that General Motors new policy is being ignored at least in the areas we visited, although we found no woman who was denied work at General Motors because she was pregnant.137 According to one of the women workers we interviewed, a nurse at a General Motors plant unwittingly admitted that all female applicants were still routinely tested for pregnancy. At the end of September 1997, Virginia Castillo, a General Motors worker in Reynosa, in the state of Tamaulipas, had a colleague who thought she was pregnant. Castillo telephoned the nurse for the evening shift to ask whether her colleague could come in for a pregnancy exam. The nurse reportedly told Castillo that she did not have access to the pregnancy exams because they used them only in the morning for the women applicants and that she could leave a note for the morning nurse to leave a pregnancy exam kit out.138 In addition, General Motors has been made aware, on at least one occasion, of reports that its new policy was being violated quite openly. On May 23, 1997, at a General Motors shareholders meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, a worker from the General Motors-owned maquiladora in Reynosa told General Motors executives that newly-hired women workers where she worked were still being required to give urine samples for pregnancy testing as a condition for employment. Jack Smith, C.E.O. of General Motors and Walter S. Ralph, manager, International Benefits, both attended this meeting and promised to look into the matter.139
In a January 1998 letter to Human Rights Watch, General Motors affirmed its pledge to stop using pregnancy screening as a condition for employment without exception. General Motors denied that urine samples are used for pregnancy tests and claimed that the samples instead were requested for drug testing (see Appendix G for General Motors letter).140 General Motors added that even in instances in which women applicants pregnancy status is inadvertently discovered, "Hiring decisions continue to be based solely on the applicants ability to do the job." General Motors also indicated that it had begun to attach notifications to all applications indicating that requesting pregnancy information was prohibited.141 A subsequent telephone interview with Walter S. Ralph, manager, International Benefits, revealed that General Motors made the decision to attach such notifications to all applications in December 1997 and the policy was implemented in February 1998. Ralph indicated that he knew that the policy was working from observation: he observes pregnant workers in the factory.142
Human Rights Watch remains concerned that General Motors-owned maquiladoras may continue to subject female job applicants to pregnancy tests in the hiring process. Despite General Motors protests to the contrary, Human Rights Watch has gathered evidence that at a minimum calls into question this policys full implementation. As noted, a General Motors worker described in detail a conversation with a factory nurse that tended to corroborate workers beliefs that the company still conducted pregnancy tests on female job applicants. At the same time, the present application process for women job applicants, as described by recent applicants, is remarkably similar to the process before General Motors adoption of a new policy: by their accounts, women applicants are still required to provide urine samples (although General Motors claims this is for drug analysis); and women are still asked for information that could be used to determine pregnancy status, such as whether they are sexually active and whether they use contraceptives.143 This information raises serious doubts about compliance. At a minimum, General Motors has failed to communicate to us any information to suggest that they sought to confirm through means unconnected with their managers in Mexico that the pregnancy exams have ceased, even by monitoring the numbers of pregnancy tests their infirmaries ordered.
Post-Hire Pregnancy-Based Sex Discrimination
Post-hire sex discrimination persists in maquiladoras along the U.S.-Mexico border. The purpose of post-hire pregnancy discrimination is to identify pregnant workers in the early stages of their employment with a view to discontinuing that employment. Thus, in most of the cases documented below, pregnancy testing or mistreatment of pregnant workers was motivated by a desire to force women out of their jobs. However, some corporations, most notably Tyco International, argue that such post-hire discrimination is actually a "protective" measure, designed to assure that women are given less strenuous work and can avoid physically-demanding work that might cause a miscarriage. Tycos argument is undercut by at least three points: first, the pregnancy exams are given in a pre-hire context; second, protection needs which may be met by reasonable gender distinction cannot be achieved through adverse discrimination; and third, women applicants do not consider these exams either voluntary or health-care related. Moreover, our documentation shows that post-hire positive pregnancy status typically results in the worker being fired, although we found no evidence that Tyco International fired women workers discovered to be pregnant. In our view, the potential for abuse through such practices outweighs any alleged protective value.
Most important, women applicants and workers themselves should make these decisions and not have them made for them. While corporations may have an interest in knowing the pregnancy status of its female workers in order to discharge adequately its labor code-mandated duty to accommodate them, given the pervasiveness of pregnancy-based sex discrimination in Mexico, this duty should not be met by asking female applicants or workers about their pregnancy status. Instead, corporations should take proactive measures to encourage pregnant workers to come forward, such as posting notices about the special provisions to which they are entitled by law. The factorys role is to provide all workers with complete and timely information about the effects of certain types of work on workers reproductive and other health. Those corporations claiming to test for pregnancy as a measure to protect those testedshould be challenged to produce records of such testing and of the employment histories of women found to be pregnant, as well as the corresponding special accommodations made for them.
Post-hire pregnancy-based sex discrimination involves various forms of monitoring female workers: women are required to provide additional urine samples for pregnancy testing or are required to provide proof of continued menstruation, in the form of showing used sanitary napkins to company medical personnel. Post-hire discrimination also involves retaliatory actions on the part of corporations once they discover women workers are pregnant. Maquiladora managers reportedly threaten women with firing, with a loss of their right to return to work after maternity leave, and with nonpayment of Labor Ministry-mandated wages during maternity leave.
Women suffer under the stress and fear of becoming pregnant in the first months after they obtain jobs. A worker at NPC International144 in Ciudad Juárez told Human Rights Watch, "Everyone tells me that after they sign a six-month contract they can get pregnant and they arent going to get fired. Before six months, everyone knows they are going to be fired if they become pregnant. So they say, Im not going to become pregnant. Workers wait to get pregnant. After six months, if they dont have a contract, they ask for it. They get their contract as a type of protection."145
One factor that helped determine whether women workers would be harassed during their pregnancies or allowed to continue to work was the duration of time they had spent working at a factory. For example, Adriana Salas, a worker at Tagit de México146 in Tijuana, explained that although there were pregnant workers at her factory, "If a woman had worked there for three or four months and she became pregnant, she could stay. If she had not been there for enough time, she would be fired."147 A worker from Berg Electric Intermex Manufactura,148 explained that women at Berg Electric Intermex Manufactura who get pregnant while still on temporary contracts are fired: "Pregnant workers who have been employed for a long time are treated well, but if they get pregnant in the first three months, they are fired."149
A worker from NPC International150 in Ciudad Juárez underscored the fear new female hires must endure: "Workers at my factory will get fired if they become pregnant at the two month pregnancy testing time. After youve worked there for six months, its not a problem if you become pregnant, but women are afraid to get pregnant because they will lose their jobs."151
Arbitrary Use of Probationary Contracts
Post-hire pregnancy-based discrimination is facilitated by the widespread use of thirty to ninety day probationary contracts in Mexicos maquiladora sector.152 Maquiladora employers use such probationary contracts, whichthemselves are not contemplated in Mexicos federal labor code, as a means to refuse permanent employment to women who become pregnant soon after being hired. Women are hired under a three-month (or shorter) probationary contract. In the cases we documented, women who become pregnant within the probationary period and whose pregnancy was noted by their employer were not offered a permanent contract at the end of the probationary period. Factories typically let these women go without paying them indemnization, to which the women would be legally entitled, since they would have been fired for an "unjustified" cause. By firing workers for an unjustified cause, employers incur a financial liability. The maquiladoras use probationary contracts to deny workers indemnity pay. The firing would be legal so long as the workers were paid.
Workers from Industrias Ynos in Tijuana,153 Howe de México in Ciudad Juárez,154 Favesa in Ciudad Juárez,155 Samsung in Tijuana,156 Tagit de México in Tijuana,157 Berg Electric Intermex Manufactura in Ciudad Juárez,158 Ansell Perry de México in Ciudad Juárez,159 Río Bravo Eléctricos in Ciudad Juárez,160 and NPC International in Ciudad Juárez161 told us that their factories used probationary contracts to force out women who became pregnant within the first several months after being hired.
The following cases illustrate a variety of post-hire discriminatory practices that are committed against women workers in Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, Reynosa, and Río Bravo.
Post-Hire Medical Exams or Questioning
Plásticos BajaCal162 in Tijuana told us that it has a policy of asking all assembly line women workers about pregnancy status after they are hired. Plásticos BajaCal, which manufactures and assembles plastic hangers, was originally cited in "No Guarantees" for failing to allow a sick pregnant worker to leave her shift to go to the doctor.163 In an interview at the Plásticos BajaCal plant in Tijuana in May 1997, officials vehemently denied that they test applicants for pregnancy in order to deny them work. They argued that they tested workers only after they were already hired and then argued that Tyco International has a legal and moral obligation to know whether the workersit hires are pregnant so it can protect them in accordance with Mexican law by assigning them to less physically demanding work.
Mexican laws prohibition of sex discrimination, including discrimination based on pregnancy, should not pose an obstacle to corporations meeting their obligations to accommodate pregnant women or to protect themselves from liability for workplace harm to a pregnant womans fetus or to the pregnant woman herself. While no provision of Mexican federal labor code requires companies to determine whether entering employees are pregnant, neither for insurance or safety purposes, and while the federal labor code does not make mandatory worker provision of such information to employers when they become pregnant, employers have a clear obligation to provide special provisions to pregnant workers and a desire to protect themselves from liability.
According to Marta Harmon, general manager of Plásticos BajaCal in Tijuana, testing for pregnancy is voluntary; women workers can always opt not to take the test. Harmon explained:
Every employee undergoes a physical. This is a practice in every Mexican company. In our company, workers undergo a physical exam right after they are hired.164 Our female doctor asks if they are pregnant. She does not ask about pregnancy as a condition of employment. In our case, the question is asked as a part of a full physical exam, not as a condition for employment, nor as a separate question, except to protect women.165
A June 5, 1998, letter (see Appendix I) from Plásticos BajaCals parent company, Tyco International, contradicts the information we were given by Plásticos BajaCal officials. In that letter, Tyco International denies that Plásticos BajaCal officials conduct any ". . . pregnancy tests (pre or post employment), ask for proof of pregnancy status of contraceptive use." Moreover, Human Right Watch interviews with former and current Plásticos BajaCal workers flatly contradicted the denial of pre-hire testing and the claim that testing was voluntary and health related. The claim by Plásticos BajaCal officials that pre-hire pregnancy testing was not done was contradicted, as the cases below of testing between June 1994 and May 1997 demonstrate:
· Ruth Cisneros, twenty years old, worked at Plásticos BajaCal for two months in June 1994, putting hooks on hangers. Plásticos BajaCal did not give her a permanent contract, and she was laid off166 when there was a decrease in orders. A company doctor gave her a pregnancy test in the form of a urine sample during the hiring process but before she signed a provisional contract.167
· Fernanda Octavia Paz, forty-five years old, has worked packing hangers at Plásticos BajaCal since May 1996. She was not given a pregnancy test during the hiring process, but the company doctor asked her if she was pregnant. She considered answering this question to be obligatory. The doctor did not explain why she wanted this information.168
· Violeta Bermúdez, thirty-one years old, has been working packing hangers at Plásticos BajaCal since May 1996. As a part of a pre-hire medical exam the doctor asked her to provide a urine sample for a pregnancy test.169
· Flora Ana Caballo, forty-five years old, has been working as an assembler at Plásticos BajaCal since May 1996. The doctor at the factory asked her if she was pregnant during her pre-hire medical exam. Caballo said that she considered answering that question to be obligatory.170
· Soledad Largo, sixteen years old, has worked at Plásticos BajaCal as an assembler since April 1997. The company doctor not only asked her whether she was pregnant but also examined her abdominal area. Largo believed that Plásticos BajaCal wanted to know her pregnancy status in order to deny her work if she was pregnant.171
· Paula Serrano, sixteen years old, has worked at Plásticos BajaCal as an assembler since April 1997. The company doctor asked her whether she was pregnant and examined her abdomen.172
The women workers we interviewed from Plásticos BajaCal all believed that the pregnancy exams were done in an effort to screen out pregnant women, and they did not consider such exams optional or voluntary. All felt, based on their previous maquiladora experience, that if they had not agreed to take the pregnancy exam or answer questions about pregnancy status, they would not have been hired.
Human Rights Watch researchers asked Harmon why Plásticos BajaCal does not simply inform women workers that it does not discriminate against pregnant workers and provide information about workplace health hazards so that workers who become pregnant can make informed decisions about whether and when to request special accommodation. Harmon replied:
We could do that, but half of them will not understand what we have said. They will not go to the doctor to find out if they are pregnant. They will hear the message, they want me to go to the doctor. They will panic. Part of the questioning by the doctor during the medical exam is to reassure them that they will not be be fired if they are pregnant. However, if a worker is pregnant, she is not going to be put on a molding machine. We ask about pregnancy to protect women. We have a legal and moral obligation to do this. Workers are not given pregnancy tests. They are only asked if they are pregnant. If their answer is that they are not sure if they are pregnant, we ask them if they want to know. If they say yes, they get a test. Most women say yes. But only if the woman wants it. If a woman says she is not pregnant, we do not ask anything further. If she does not want the exam, she does not want the exam. The doctor does a report on every woman she examines. There is a file on every one of the our employees.173
Plásticos BajaCal officials acknowledged to us that they operate in a context in which almost all other maquiladoras use pregnancy testing in a pre-hire context to deny women job applicants work, even though they did not. We believe that Plásticos BajaCal ignores how womens previous hiring experiences (or knowledge of the maquiladora hiring process) directly diminishes or eliminates their ability to refuse to answer a question about pregnancy status or refuse to take a pregnancy exam when they are in doubt about that status. Most womens previous work experiences will make them see those options as compulsory. Contrary to their assertions that only post-hire testing is conducted by Plásticos BajaCal, and that this is voluntary and geared for worker welfare, Human Rights Watch interviews with women who presently work or have worked in the recent past at the Plásticos BajaCal maquiladora indicate that questions about and exams to confirm pregnancy status are performed in a pre-hire context and are involuntary. None of the women workers Human Rights Watch interviewed had to undergo a post-hirepregnancy exam. Nor did they know of others with whom they worked at Plásticos BajaCal who had to undergo a post-hire pregnancy exam.
While our research indicated that Plásticos BajaCal used pregnancy testing and questioning in a pre-hire context, many other maquiladoras use post-hire medical exams or questioning to determine workers pregnancy status, as described below.
· María Guadalupe Tello, eighteen years old, has packed folders into boxes at Industrias Ynos174 plant number twelve in Tijuana since September 1996. Tello had worked for two weeks when her line supervisor told her to go to the company doctor for her medical exam. The doctor gave her a blood pressure and eye exam, and a cup in which to urinate, explaining that he was going to test for pregnancy. A nurse asked her if she was sexually active and the last date of her menstrual cycle. Tello saw approximately five other women waiting for medical exams that day.175
· Ana Rosa Rodríguez, thirty-seven years old, works assembling light meters at Landis and Gyr176 in Reynosa. She started working at Landis and Gyr in August 1997. When Rodríguez first started, they did not do medical exams. During this period, the company held lectures at the plant in the cafeteria about family planning, during which the company doctor told women workers that Landis and Gyr did not want pregnant women there and that women should not get pregnant and should plan on getting pregnant at some other time. In mid-November Landis and Gyr started testing the women who had been hired previously for pregnancy. Rodríguez had to go to the infirmary to give a urine sample for a pregnancy exam. A company doctor asked her whether she was sexually active, used birth control, and the date of her last menstruation.177
· Dulce María González is eighteen years old. In August 1997 she applied for a practicum for high school in the accounting office of Lintel.178 Lintel assembles telephones. They hired her and told her to come back the next day for a medical exam. The next day, at the infirmary a nurse weighed her and took a medical history, including asking her whether she was pregnant, sexually active, or using contraceptives. The nurse also presented her with a form that González had to sign that said if she got pregnant within three months of her start date she would be let go. González was not given a copy of this form. She resigned before her three month probationary period ended because her supervisor treated her badly.179
· At the time of being hired, Anna-Patricia Santos Armendáriz, twenty-six years old and employed by NPC International180 in Ciudad Juárez, was given a three-month probationary contract and told by supervisors that if she became pregnant within those months, she would not be offered a permanent contract. Two months later, she was given another pregnancy test, and the last day of her most recent menstruation was recorded. According to Santos Armendáriz, "If you get pregnant after two months, they dismiss you, but the company has no problem with women who become pregnant after the end of the initial three-month contract period."181
· Lucy Unamuno Rivera, twenty-five years old, who works at Howe de México182 in Ciudad Juárez, was given a pregnancy test without warning in January 1997. She was notified the day before that she was to have a medical exam and not to eat anything because a blood sample would be taken. She was given a blood test and a pregnancy test in the form of a urine sample, which was positive. Her supervisor upbraided her for keeping her pregnancy a secret and told her that she would have to sign a voluntary resignation letter. Unamuno Rivera replied that she didnt want to resign, but the personnel manager told her that if she did not sign she would be fired. From the moment she realized that Unamuno Rivera was pregnant, the personnel manager consistently harassed her and told her to resign. In March 1997 Unamuno Rivera fell at work and hurt her arm. Her supervisor told her that since she was going to receive maternity wages she should not file for occupational injury pay. Her supervisor continued to pressure her to resign and told her not to bother coming to work. Unamuno Rivera never missed a day of work during her pregnancy.183
· Isabel Teresa Sánchez, nineteen years old, worked assembling Christmas lights and ornaments at Manufacturas Ilimitadas in Matamoros.184 When she started to work there in August 1996, she was approximately two months pregnant. She did not tell them since no one there asked whether she was pregnant and since they told her the pre-hire pregnancy exam, in the form of a urine sample, came back negative. A co-worker who was in the restroom at the same time Sánchez was there realized she was pregnant and communicated it to the personnel supervisor. The personnel supervisor called Sánchez to her office and asked her whether she was pregnant. The supervisor then told her that she had to resign. Sánchez refused and talked to another supervisor who advised her to sign the letter of resignation. Sánchez was fired in October 1996, at which time she signed a letter saying that she was resigning for being distracted at work. Manufacturas Ilimitadas promised to continue her social security but did not.185
· There was no nurse or doctor when she was hired, so Ruth Cisneros, twenty years old, who works at Panasonics186 battery division in Tijuana, was not given a medical exam until four months later. At that time, a nurse administered the pregnancy test and the doctor asked her if she was sexually active. Cisneross line supervisor told her that pregnancy exams were obligatory. Cisneros commented that if she were pregnant, she never would have applied for work in a maquiladora. It would have been a waste of time. Now that she has a permanent contract, she does not worry.187
· Claudia Pacheco, sixteen years old, has worked at Industrias Ynos188 in Tijuana since August 1996. After she was hired, one of the secretaries asked her if she was pregnant but did not explain why.189
· Xochitl Alanís, twenty-nine years old, works assembling car parts in Delnosa190 in Reynosa. She has been working at General Motors for several years and at the time of our interview, was on leave due to a workplace injury. When she was pregnant, her supervisor regularly upbraided her for leaving her work station to go to the rest room or for missing work to get pre-natal care. He told her she could only go to the restroom twice a day. Alanís sought assistance from the doctor in the maquiladora clinic, who sent her supervisor a note explaining that as a pregnant woman, Alanís needed to go to the bathroom often. The supervisor warned her that if she kepthaving to go to the bathroom and if she kept being late for or missing her shift, she would be fired and yelled at her, "Who told you to go out and get pregnant?" After Alanís went back to work from maternity leave, her supervisor yelled at her and threatened to fire her for taking too long in the rest room. She explained that she was pumping milk191 for her baby and that she could not do it any quicker.192
Research for this update revealed two forms of post-hire pregnancy-based sex discrimination that we had not previously uncovered, one of which is particularly shocking and humiliating. The first is that companies further discriminate against women workers by compelling them to show used sanitary napkins or tampons as a condition for being offered permanent work. The second form of discrimination is the allegation that some maquiladora employers are allowing recently-hired pregnant workers to take maternity leave, but threatening to refuse to pay their maternity leave wages.
While Human Rights Watch has no information to suggest that these practice are de rigeur in the way that obliging women job applicants to provide information on pregnancy status in a hiring process context has become, we are greatly concerned that these practices be condemned and halted before they have a chance to proliferate.
Mandatory Menstruation Check
In some factories in Ciudad Juárez, during the first three months of employment, women workers are required to return to company medical clinics or infirmaries to show their used sanitary napkins or tampons to medical personnel to prove that they remain free of pregnancy. Others are required to return to infirmaries to submit again to pregnancy tests. Interviews with workers in Ciudad Juárez revealed that one reason maquiladora personnel inquire about a womans most recent menstrual cycle when she applies is so clinic personnel can schedule her return trip to the infirmary to coincide with her anticipated date of menstruation.
In a number of cases, workers were told upon hire that they would need to show their used sanitary napkins within the first few months of work. In almost every case, workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch emphasized that they found this practice to be demeaning and embarrassing, but they felt obligated to comply with this policy in order to keep their jobs, as the cases below illustrate:
· María López Márquez, nineteen years old, began work at Siemens Sistemas Automotrices193 in Ciudad Juárez in February 1996. During the application process, she was given a urine test for pregnancy and asked the date of her last menstruation. The test came out negative. When she was hired, she was told that she would have to return to the infirmary for the next two months and show her sanitary napkin to prove that she was still menstruating and not pregnant. When she first worked at Siemens Sistemas Automotrices, she was on the day shift. Later she changed to the night shift when there was no doctor. In June 1996, López went to the infirmary because she did not feel well and was given a pregnancy test, which came out positive. A woman from the personnel office yelled at López Márquez, accusing her of lying about her pregnancy and of switching shifts to avoid showing her sanitary napkin, and tried to pressure her to resign. When López Márquez replied that the infirmary had never given her an appointment to confirm that she was menstruating, the woman told her she would see if López Márquez could keep her job, but that it would be better if she resigned. López Márquez went on maternity leave in March 1996. She needed extra time apart from the six-and-a-half-week post-partum allowed and decided not to return to work.194 When her son was five months old, she returned to Siemens andapplied for a job. The same personnel employee accused her of having lied about the dates of her period and told her there was no work for her. While she was on maternity leave López Márquez was paid her normal wages, in accordance with the labor law. 195
· Silvia Rodríguez Guereca, eighteen years old, works at Siemens Sistemas Automotrices196 in Ciudad Juárez. When she was hired, she was told that she would have to continue to prove she was not pregnant during her first two months of work. During her initial medical exam, the nurse noted the dates of her last menstruation on a chart in the company infirmary. Rodríguez Guereca was first hired under a probationary one-month contract, which was subsequently extended to two additional months. During her first two months of work she was required to return to the plants infirmary and sign a form stating that she continued to menstruate. She was also required to show her sanitary napkin to the female company nurse, who waited outside the door of the bathroom so Rodríguez Guereca could show her sanitary napkin. Since then, Rodríguez Guereca became pregnant and took maternity leave. She is planning to return to her job after her maternity leave is over.197
· Manuela Barca Zapata, thirty-six years old, worked at Río Bravo Eléctricos198 in Ciudad Juárez from August 1996 to January 1997. She was informed when she was hired that she would have to return to the company infirmary in a month to show her sanitary napkin. The nurse waited outside the door, and then Barca Zapata opened the door to show her sanitary napkin. Barca Zapata described this experience as very shameful.199
· When María Elena Gómez, twenty-three years old, began working at Favesa200 in Ciudad Juárez in April 1997. She was told that they would need to check her sanitary napkin. She does not plan to go when they call her, because its "a shaming and shameful practice." Since she has been at Favesa, she has not seen the pregnant women given any special accommodation, such as less difficult work, more comfortable chairs, or more breaks. According to her, the pregnant women "just endure" the working conditions.201
· Perla Martínez is twenty-five years old. She sorted airplane tickets at NPC International202 in Ciudad Juárez from June 1994 to March 1996. When she had worked for three months, she was made to show the company nurse her sanitary napkin. She went on her own initiative, preferring this to "being reminded." Martínez became pregnant while she worked at NPC International. She was verbally abused and accused of producing less. Her shift was also changed without her consent in a manner which she considered punitive.203
Denial of Maternity Leave Wages204
Under Mexican labor law, a worker on maternity leave is entitled to receive her full wages.205 Usually, payment of these wages is shared by the government, workers, and employers through contributions to the social security system, which is also known as the Instituto Mexicano de Seguridad Social (Mexican Institute of Social Security, imss). However, to be eligible for the imss-funded maternity leave wage subsidy, a worker must have contributed payments to imss for thirty weeks in the twelve month period prior to taking maternity leave. If not, her employer must pay 100 percent of her maternity leave wage benefit.206 Thus, not knowing whether women applicants have the requisite time vested in the social security system to require full government payment of maternity leave wage, maquiladoras are in part motivated by a desire to avoid paying pregnant workers mandatory maternity leave wages. They avoid hiring pregnant women so as to avoid paying maternity wages. When a pregnant woman does slip by, maquiladoras sometimes force her to resign before she can begin her maternity leave, thereby avoiding any monetary responsibility. In rare but troubling instances, maquiladoras allow women workers to take maternity leave but refuse to pay them while they are on leave.
Human Rights Watch received information about three cases in which workers alleged that factories denied maternity leave wages to them or their colleagues. These women were faced with either being fired before they could even begin their maternity leave or accepting conditions for maternity leave that contravene Mexicos federal labor code and left them without wages during maternity leave.
· Rosa Adolfo Suárez, twenty-two years old, began working at Industrial Hase207 in Ciudad Juárez in March 1997. She was about six months pregnant. She wore tee-shirts to hide her pregnancy for as long as possible because she was afraid of what would happen when her pregnancy was discovered. When her pregnancy was discovered, Adolfo Suárez said her line supervisor informed her that she could take maternity leave, but Industrial Hase would not pay her maternity leave wages because she entered pregnant.208 Because of this, Adolfo Suárez plans to take only one week off after her baby is born. Adolfo Suárez never signed a permanent contract and worries that she will not be allowed to return to her job after she gives birth."209
Retaliation for Speaking Out
Human Rights Watch was told of a disturbing case in which a woman worker reportedly attempted to intervene to protect the health of her pregnant co-workers. According to her account, the maquiladora responded by firing her:
· Marcela Gallego, thirty-eight years old, made wood doors and windows for the Industrias María de Tijuana210 factory in Tijuana from May to October 1995. According to her account, two pregnant workers at Industrias María de Tijuana sometimes fainted from exposure to the paint thinner with which they worked. Gallego protested and demanded that they receive some form of protection. Her supervisor responded by telling her that it was none of her business and that it was common for pregnant women to faint. Gallego was fired shortly thereafter. She was told they no longer needed so many workers, but she was the only one fired to herknowledge. She said she signed her "resignation" papers because she believed that if she argued, the company would make her life difficult and prevent her from obtaining a job at another factory.21140 Unless otherwise noted, all names of women workers have been changed, at their request, to protect them from possible retaliation. In addition, identifying information has been omitted or changed.
41 See Human Rights Watch Womens Rights Project, "No Guarantees: Sex Discrimination in Mexicos Maquiladora Sector," A Human Rights Watch Short Report, vol. 8., no. 6 (B), August 1996.
42 Human Rights Watch was unable to match all maquiladoras with a parent company.
43 Article 134 (X) of the federal labor code states that a worker is required to " . . . submit to medical examinations foreseen in the internal regulations and other observed norms of the company or establishment, in order to verify that he does not suffer from some disability or workplace illness, contagious or incurable; (XI) Make cognizant to the employer contagious sickness that are suffered from, as soon as he has knowledge of them (emphasis added) . . . "
44 Apart from requiring a urine sample, doctors occasionally conduct other physical exams to try to determine pregnancy status, including poking women in the stomach and feeling their abdomens to check for swelling. Depending on the factory, blood tests (normally a prick on the finger) for illnesses such as anemia or diabetes may also be performed, as well as lung x-rays. Urine samples may also be used to test for kidney-related disease.
45 Now closed.
46 Owned by Rainbird of San Diego, California. Manufactures sprinkler accessories.
47 Human Rights Watch interview, Alisa González, Tijuana, May 22, 1997.
48 Almost all maquiladoras in Matamoros are unionized. Typically, a workers goes to a union to find out about job availability. Matamoros maquiladoras inform local unions of their job vacancies. The unions send groups of individuals to apply for jobs in response to vacancies they receive. For the most part, maquiladoras in Matamoros do not accept applications from workers who are not sent by unions.
49 Sindicato de Jornaleros y Obreros Industriales de Matamoros (Union of Day Laborers and Industrial Workers of Matamoros).
50 Sindicato de Leocadio Mendoza Reyes.
51 Owned by Cleveland, Ohio-based Eaton Corp. Manufactures electrical parts for autos and for washing machines.
52 Human Rights Watch interview, Rafaela Rojas Cruz, Matamoros, November 8, 1997. Cruz was one of five women workers who testified at the U.S. NAO hearing against Mexico in Brownsville, Texas, on November 19, 1997.
53 Owned by Japan-based Matsushita Electric Corp. Manufactures batteries and television components.
54 Human Rights Watch interview, Marcela Gallego, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
55 Human Rights Watch interview, Ana Rosa Rodríguez, Reynosa, November 5, 1997. Article 133(I) of the federal labor code prohibits age discrimination in the hiring process. Rodríguez was one of five women workers who testified at the U.S. NAO hearing against Mexico on November 19, 1997, in Brownsville, Texas.
56 Owned by Los Angeles, California-based Esselte Pemvaflex Co. Manufactures cardboard and paper folders.
57 Human Rights Watch interview, María Guadalupe Tello, Tijuana, May 21, 1997.
58 Owned by National Processing Company of Louisville, Kentucky. Processes airline tickets.
59 Human Rights Watch interview, Anna-Patricia Santos Armendáriz, Ciudad Juárez, May 19, 1997
60 Owned by Munich, Germany-based Siemens AG. Manufactures automotive parts.
61 Owned by Sensus Technologies Inc. of Union Town, Pennsylvania. Manufactures water meters.
62 Human Rights Watch interview, María López Márquez, Ciudad Juárez, May 17, 1997.
63 Owned by Munich, Germany-based Siemens AG. Manufactures automotive parts.
64 Human Rights Watch interview, Silvia Rodríguez Guereca, Ciudad Juárez, May 17, 1997.
65 Ownership unknown.
66 Owned by Alpha Southwest of San Diego, California. Manufactures suitcases.
67 Human Rights Watch interview, Angela Torres Rey, Tijuana, May 21, 1997.
68 Owned by Industrial Arcos of San Ysidro, California. Sews knapsacks.
69 Owned by Redondo Beach, California-based Douglas Furniture of California. Manufactures sofas and other furniture.
70 Human Rights Watch interview, Aurora Rojas Castaña, Tijuana, May 21, 1997.
71 Owned by Hubbell Inc. of Orange, Connecticut. Manufactures industrial lamps.
72 Owned by Intermex in El Paso, Texas.
73 Owned by General Motors of Detroit, Michigan. Manufactures car harnesses.
74 Human Rights Watch interview, Manuela Barca Zapata, Ciudad Juárez, May 18, 1997. Barca Zapata applied for work at this General Motors-owned facility before General Motors announced its new policy on March 1, 1997.
Human Rights Watch does not oppose the responsible dissemination of reproductive health information by maquiladora health clinics, or the dispensing of services. For many women it is their only access to reproductive care and supplies. We do, however, oppose the coercive use of contraceptives as a direct violation of womens right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.
75 Owned by Lear Corp. of Southfield, Michigan. Manufactures seat covers for cars.
76 Owned by General Motors of Detroit, Michigan. Manufactures covers for car seats.
77 Human Rights Watch interview, María Elena Gómez, Ciudad Juárez, May 17, 1997. Gómez began and ended working at this General Motors-owned plant before their policy of March 1, 1997 took effect.
78 Owned by Melbourne, Australia-based Pacific Dunlop Group.
79 Human Rights Watch interview, Rigoberta Flores Paloma, Ciudad Juárez, May 18, 1997.
80 Owned by Sanyo Electric Corp. of Osaka, Japan.
81 Owned by Tagit Inc. of Los Angeles, California. Manufactures seasonal and department store-specific bags.
82 Human Rights Watch interview, Gloria Ibáñez Pérez, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
83 Owned by Lear Corp. of Southfield, Michigan. Manufactures seat covers for cars.
84 Human Rights Watch interview, Rosaria Castillo Paco, Ciudad Juárez, May 17, 1997.
85 Owned by Romainville, France-based SAFT. Manufactures cellular telephone parts.
86 Human Rights Watch interview, Joselyn Cáceres Indayé, Tijuana, May 21, 1997.
87 Owned by St. Marys Sewing of Edcouch, Texas.
88 Human Rights Watch interview, Rosario de Leon, Río Bravo, October 9, 1997.
89 Owned by United Solar Systems Co. of Troy, Michigan. Manufactures light switches.
90 Human Rights Watch interview, Erica Bibiano, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
91 Owned by American Frame Manufacturing Co. of San Diego, California. Manufactures picture frames.
92 Owned by Vertek International Custom House of San Diego, California. Manufactures machine interfaces, including components for televisions and computers.
93 Human Rights Watch interview, Laura Yañez Goya, Tijuana, May 22, 1997.
94 Parent company unknown. Manufactures mens clothes under the labels Bugle Boy, Canyon River Blues, Northwest Blue, Built for Comfort, and the London Jean. This company is unrelated to the company of the same name that manufactures sprinklers.
95 Human Rights Watch interview, Rosa Adolfo Suárez, Ciudad Juárez, May 18, 1997.
96 Owned by Matsushita Electric Corp. of Japan. Manufactures batteries.
97 Human Rights Watch interview, Ruth Cisneros, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
98 Owned by Samsung Group of Seoul, South Korea. Manufactures computer monitors and televisions.
99 Owned by ComAir Rotron Inc. of San Ysidro, California. Manufactures air conditioning components.
100 Human Rights Watch interview, Elizabet Gonzalo Greco, Tijuana, May 22, 1997.
101 Owned by Leviton Manufacturing Co. of Little Neck, New York. Manufactures light switches.
102 Human Rights Watch interview, Metsí Basques, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
103 Owned by Sanyo Electric Corp. of Osaka, Japan. Manufactures batteries.
104 Owned by Tagit Inc. of Los Angeles, California. Manufactures seasonal and department store-specific bags.
105 Human Rights Watch interview, Adriana Salas, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
106 Owned by Sanyo Electric Corp. of Osaka, Japan.
107 Human Rights Watch interview, Teresa Hernández, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
108 Owned by Matsushita Electric Corp. of Osaka, Japan. Manufactures batteries and television components.
109 Owned by Confecciones Paolas of San Ysidro, California. Sews clothes.
110 Human Rights Watch interview, Mariana Vargas, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
111 Owned by Victoria, Australia-based Howe & Co.
112 Owned by Zenith Electronics Corporation of Glenview, Illinois. Manufactures cabinets for televisions.
113 In Human Rights Watchs first report on discrimination in Mexicos maquiladora sector in August 1996, Zenith factories in Reynosa, in the state of Tamaulipas, were cited for obliging women applicants to undergo pregnancy testing as a condition for employment and for firing pregnant workers. Zenith admitted to the practice, has refused to change its hiring policy, and has disavowed any post-hire pregnancy-based sex discrimination. For a detailed explanation of Zeniths response to allegation of sex discrimination, see Appendix A of "No Guarantees."
114 Was owned by Allegiance Health Care of McGaw Park, Illinois. Manufactured hospital gloves (maquiladora has closed).
115 Owned by Thomson Corporate Worldwide of Boulogne, France. Manufactures parts for televisions.
116 Human Rights Watch interview, Lucy Unamuno Rivera, Ciudad Juárez, May 17, 1997.
117 Owned by Magnolia International of Harlingen, Texas. Manufactures exercise and sportswear clothing brand named BIKE.
118 Human Rights Watch interview, Liliana Neri, Río Bravo, October 9, 1997.
119 Owned by Duro Bag Inc. of Ludlow, Kentucky.
120 Human Rights Watch interview, Rosa-María Galván, Río Bravo, October 9, 1997.
121 Owned by Zenith Electronics Corporation of Glenview, Illinois. Manufactures cabinets for televisions.
122 Human Rights Watch interview, Beatriz Ortiz González, Reynosa, October 12, 1997.
123 Owned by Precision Cable Manufacturing Inc. of Rockwell, Texas.
124 Human Rights Watch interview, Marcela Rodríguez, Reynosa, October 10, 1997.
125 Owned by Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls.
126 Human Rights Watch interview, Sara Ramírez, Reynosa, October 10, 1997.
127 Owned by Union City, California-based Shin-Etsu Polymer America. Manufactures for Panasonic.
128 Human Rights Watch interview, Yaneth García Esperanza, Reynosa, October 11, 1997.
129 Owned by Samsung Group of Seoul, South Korea. Manufactures computer monitors and televisions.
130 Human Rights Watch interview, Maribel García, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
131 General Motors announced this policy change in a March 7, 1997 letter to Human Rights Watch.
132 Human Rights Watch spent five days in this area attempting to verify General Motors new policy by locating women who had begun to work at General Motors-owned maquiladoras after March 1, 1997. These were the only women we were able to locate in the amount of time available.
133 One additional case appears later in the section on post-hire pregnancy-based sex discrimination, making the total number of cases eleven.
134 Human Rights Watch interviews, Sonia Gordillo García, twenty-three years old, Reynosa, October 11, 1997; Hilda Ramírez, twenty-five years old, Reynosa, October 12, 1997; Graciela Duque, twenty-seven years old, Reynosa, October 12, 1997; Beatriz Salas Figuera, twenty-three years old, Reynosa, October 11, 1997; Adriana Martínez, twenty-two years old, Reynosa, October 11, 1997; Ana Larcera Hernández, twenty-one years old, Reynosa, October 12, 1997; Melisa Rangel, eighteen years old, Reynosa, October 11, 1997; Melina González, twenty-two years old, Reynosa, October 11, 1997; Virginia Castillo, twenty-six years old, Reynosa, October 10, 1997 (Castillo was one of five women workers who gave testimony at the U.S. NAO hearing against Mexico in Brownsville, Texas, on November 19, 1997. Castillo gave testimony under the pseudonym María Vásquez Pérez); and Dulce María Sanchez, twenty-nine years old, Reynosa, October 12, 1997.
135 Human Rights Watch interview, Gregory E. Lau, executive director, Worldwide Executive Compensation and Corporate Governance; Walter S. Ralph, manager, International Benefits; and Elizabeth A. Lowery, attorney, Detroit, Michigan, April 10, 1997.
136 This toll free line is staffed by an independent company based in Miami. When workers call to lodge complaints, they are given a case number and urged to call back to discover how the case is proceeding. According to Walter S. Ralph, manager, International Benefits, what happens to the complaint called in depends on the nature of the complaint. To his knowledge, no complaints had been received about pre-hire or on-the job pregnancy-based sex discrimination. Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Walter S. Ralph, manager, International Benefits, June 1, 1998.
137 At the same time, Human Rights Watch did not a find any women who applied for work at General Motors while pregnant.
138 Human Rights Watch interview, Virginia Castillo, Reynosa, October 10, 1997.
139 Human Rights Watch interview, Lolita Obregón Nieves, Río Bravo, October 9, 1997.
140 Border-area labor rights activists say that General Motors does request urine samples of its male job applicants, too, reportedly to test for illicit drug use. This, of course, does not mean that female job applicants urine is not also tested for pregnancy.
141 General Motors letter to Human Rights Watch, p. 1.
142 Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Walter S. Ralph, manager, International Benefits, June 1, 1998.
143 A General Motors executive, Walter S. Ralph, expressed surprise that such questions were still being asked during the pre-hire medical exams. He added that if he were a woman applying for a job and was asked such questions he would think that his potential employer was trying to determine pregnancy status. Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Walter S. Ralph, manager, International Benefits, June 1, 1998.
144 Processes airline tickets. Owned by National Processing Company of Louisville, Kentucky.
145 Human Rights Watch interview, Ana-Patricia Santos Armendáriz, Ciudad Juárez, May 19, 1997.
146 Owned by Tagit Inc. of Los Angeles, California.
147 Human Rights Watch interview, Adriana Salas, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
148 Owned by Intermex of El Paso, Texas. Assembles parts for telephones, cables and connectors.
149 Human Rights Watch interview, Manuela Barca Zapata, Ciudad Juárez, May 18, 1997.
150 Owned by National Processing Company of Louisville, Kentucky. Processes airline tickets.
151 Human Rights Watch interview, Ana-Patricia Santos Armendáriz, Ciudad Juárez, May 19, 1997.
152 Temporary, provisional, or probationary contracts are used by companies to convince the worker that she or he is working on a trial basis and therefore has no legal right to contest a subsequent firing and no legal right to her full severance pay. These contracts are used to hire workers on a probationary basis and then allow managers to fire them at will, although Mexican law does not explicitly provide for such probationary periods.
Under Article 47 of the Mexican federal labor code, an employer can rescind the labor relationship for justified causes at any time without incurring responsibility for severance pay. There are fifteen justifiable reasons listed for which an employer can rescind the labor relationship: among them are 1) a misrepresentation by the worker or his union of references or falsequalification certificates of the worker (in this specific case the recision must be done within thirty days of the working relationship); 2) destruction of company property, injury of co-workers; 3) physical aggression toward the employers family; 4) more than three unexcused absences in a period of thirty days; 5) coming to work inebriated or drugged; etc. None of the fifteen justified reasons specified in the Federal Labor Code has to do with pregnancy status. Furthermore, even though a labor relationship may be rescinded by the employer or the employee, the nature of the labor relationship is never probationary in a way that would exclude payment of severance pay.
Article 51 of the federal labor code lists the acceptable reasons for which an employee may withdraw from a labor relationship without any responsibility. Among them are 1) The worker was deceived about the nature or conditions of work (if this is the cause of the recision, the worker must do so within thirty days of starting his employment); 2) the employer mistreats the worker; 3) the employer reduces the salary of the employee; etc.
A company can issue a short-term contract only when the work itself will conclude after a specific time. For example, a contractor building a house may hire a worker only for the amount of time necessary to build the house. The nature of the work is such that it will be completed in a specified span of time. Since maquiladoras have on-going contracts for work, it stands to reason that they are prohibited by law from obliging workers to accept provisional contracts.
153 Human Rights Watch interview, Claudia Pacheco, Tijuana, May 21, 1997.
154 Human Rights Watch interview, Lucy Unamuno Rivera, Ciudad Juárez, May 17, 1997.
155 Human Rights Watch interview, María Elena Gómez, Ciudad Juárez, May 17, 1997.
156 Human Rights Watch interview, Maribel García, Tijuana, May 22, 1997.
157 Human Rights Watch interview, Gloria Ibáñez Pérez, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
158 Human Rights Watch interview, Manuela Barca Zapata, Ciudad Juárez, May 18, 1997.
159 Human Rights Watch interview, Rigoberta Flores Paloma, Ciudad Juárez, May 18, 1997
160 Human Rights Watch interview, Manuela Barca Zapata, Ciudad Juárez, May 18, 1997.
161 Human Rights Watch interview, Perla Martínez, Ciudad Juárez, May 19, 1997.
162 Owned by Tyco International of Exeter, New Hampshire. Manufactures plastic hangers.
163 "No Guarantees," p.2. The worker subsequently miscarried that morning.
164 The vast majority of the maquiladoras perform medical exams in a pre-hire context, as is permissible under Article 134 of Mexicos federal labor code. While some maquiladoras do conduct post-hire medical exams, post-hire medical exams are typically done when an on-site clinic was not previously available. Our research indicates that these post-hire exams are used, among other things, to detect pregnancy and to force pregnant women out of their jobs.
165 Human Rights Watch interview, Marta Harmon, general manager, Plásticos BajaCal, Tijuana, May 21, 1997.
166 She was not paid any indemnity.
167 Human Rights Watch interview, Ruth Cisneros, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
168 Human Rights Watch interview, Fernanda Octavia Paz, Tijuana, May 23, 1997.
169 Human Rights Watch interview, Violeta Bermúdez, Tijuana, May 23, 1997.
170 Human Rights Watch interview, Flora Ana Caballo, Tijuana, May 23, 1997.
171 Human Rights Watch interview, Soledad Largo, Tijuana, May 23, 1997.
172 Human Rights Watch interview, Paula Serrano, Tijuana, May 23, 1997.
173 Human Rights Watch interview, Marta Harmon, general manager, Plásticos BajaCal, Tijuana, May 21, 1997.
174 Owned by Esselte Pemvaflex Co. of Los Angeles, California. Manufactures cardboard and paper folders.
175 Human Rights Watch interview, María Guadalupe Tello, Tijuana, May 21, 1997.
176 Now called Landis & Staefa. Owned by Zug, Switzerland-based Landis & Staefa, AG.
177 Human Rights Watch interview, Ana Rosa Rodríguez, Reynosa, November 5, 1997. Rodríguez was one of five women who testified at the U.S. NAO hearing on Mexican labor practices on November 19, 1997, in Brownsville, Texas.
178 Ownership unknown.
179 Human Rights Watch interview, Dulce María González, Reynosa, November 5, 1997. González was one of five women workers who testified at the U.S. NAO hearing against Mexico on November 19, 1997, in Brownsville, Texas.
180 Owned by National Processing Company of Louisville, Kentucky. Processes airline tickets.
181 Human Rights Watch interview, Anna-Patricia Santos Armendáriz, Ciudad Juárez, May 19, 1997.
182 Owned by Howe & Co. of Victoria, Australia. Manufactures leather seat covers.
183 Human Rights Watch interview, Lucy Unamuno Rivera, Ciudad Juárez, May 17, 1997.
184 Ownership unknown.
185 Human Rights Watch interview, Isabel Teresa Sánchez, Matamoros, November 6, 1997. Sánchez was one of five women workers who testified at the U.S. NAO hearing on Mexican labor practices on November 19, 1997 in Brownsville, Texas.
186 Owned by Matsushita Electric Corp. of Osaka, Japan. Manufactures batteries.
187 Human Rights Watch interview, Ruth Cisneros, Tijuana, May 24, 1997.
188 Owned by Esselte Pemvaflex Co. of Los Angeles, California. Manufactures cardboard and paper folders.
189 Human Rights Watch interview, Claudia Pacheco, Tijuana, May 21, 1997
190 Owned by Detroit, Michigan-based General Motors.
191 Article 170 (IV) of the federal labor code provides lactating mothers with two extra breaks a day of one-half hour each to feed ones child, "in an adequate and hygienic area designated by the corporation."
192 Human Rights Watch interview, Xochitl Alanís, Reynosa, October 12, 1997.
193 Owned by Munich, Germany-based Siemens AG. Manufactures engine parts.
194 Article 170(VI) of the federal labor code guarantees that a woman can return to her previously-held position after maternity leave, so long as the woman returns to work before one year after the birth of the child has passed.
195 Human Rights Watch interview, María López Márquez, Ciudad Juárez, May 17, 1997.
196 Owned by Siemens AG of Munich, Germany. Manufactures engine parts.
197 Human Rights Watch interview, Silvia Rodríguez Guereca, Ciudad Juárez, May 17, 1997.
198 Owned by General Motors of Detroit, Michigan. Manufactures car harnesses.
199 Human Rights Watch interview, Manuela Barca Zapata, Ciudad Juárez, May 18, 1997. Barca Zapata worked at General Motors before they announced their policy change in March 1997.
200 Owned by Lear Corp. of Southfield, Michigan. Manufactures seat covers.
201 Human Rights Watch interview, María Elena Gómez, Ciudad Juárez, May 17, 1997.
202 Owned by National Processing Company of Louisville, Kentucky. Processes airline tickets.
203 Human Rights Watch interview, Perla Martínez, Ciudad Juárez, May 19, 1997. Maquiladoras sometime change workers shifts, knowing that different or special child-care and transportation accommodations may not be able to be made, as a way to force women workers to resign.
204 Luis Alfonso Siquieros P., president of the Conciliation and Arbitration Board (cab) in Ciudad Juárez, told Human Rights Watch that his office had investigated a few cases of women workers not being allowed to return to work after their maternity leave ended. He said the cases were decided in favor of the women and that they were paid an indemnity. Human Rights Watch was unable to verify this information and Siquieros P. could provide no corroborating data. Human Rights Watch interview, Luis Alfonso Siquieros P., Ciudad Juárez, May 19, 1997.
205 Mexican Constitution, Article 123(a)(V); federal labor code, Article 170 (1(II), (IV) (V).
206 Food bonuses, overtime, attendance and punctuality bonuses, and retirement savings are exempted from the wage amount, decreasing the normal weekly pay amount. In addition, employers often register workers with imss as earning only the legal minimum wage to keep their costs low. From Anna Torriente, "Minimum Employment Standards in Mexico," National Law Center for InterAmerican Free Trade, September 1995.
207 Parent company unknown. Sews men s clothes under the brands Bugle Boy; Canyon River Blues; Northwest Blue, Built for Comfort; and The London Jean Company.
208 Under Mexican law, depending on how much time the female worker has accrued in the social security system, either the government pays all her wages during maternity leave or the corporation pays some portion or all of it. Whatever the case, women are guaranteed six weeks of paid maternity leave pre-partum and six weeks of paid maternity leave post-partum.
209 Human Rights Watch interview, Rosa Adolfo Suárez, Ciudad Juárez, May 18, 1997.
210 Owned by Jeld-Wen Inc. of Klamath Falls, Oregon. Manufactures wooden doors and windows.
211 Human Rights Watch interview, Marcela Gallego, Tijuana, May 24, 1997. Human Rights Watch wrote to Jeld-Wen Inc. in July 1998 to inform them of our findings. At the time that this report went to press, we had received no response.