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News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


Bureau of International Labor Affairs

ILAB Press Release: Labor Department to Review Employment Discrimination Allegations in Mexico [07/15/1997]

For more information call: (202) 219-6373 X 4

The Labor Department's National Administrative Office (NAO) has decided to review allegations of job discrimination against women in Mexico's maquiladora sector. The complaints allege that Mexico does not enforce its labor law prohibitions on discrimination against pregnant women.

Acting Deputy Under Secretary for International Affairs Andrew Samet said, "The allegations in this submission are of great concern. We will use the mechanism provided in the NAFTA labor side agreement to review them, and will report our findings to the public."

Three human rights groups filed the complaint with the NAO under the provisions of the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC). They allege that maquiladora employers regularly require female job applicants to verify their pregnancy status as a condition of employment and deny hiring to pregnant women. They also claim that some maquiladoras employers mistreat or discharge pregnant employees. The reasons for such discrimination are alleged to be economic. Mexican law guarantees financial and medical support to pregnant workers, and companies also are required to provide a variety of maternity benefits.

Specifically, the complainants claim that Mexico violated the NAALC by not effectively enforcing its labor laws and by not affording access to labor tribunals for labor law enforcement and recourse to protection. They further argue that Mexico violated the principles and spirit of both the labor side agreement and international labor standards.

The three groups filing the complaint include Human Rights Watch, the International Labor Rights Fund and the National Association of Democratic Lawyers of Mexico.

The NAO has up to 180 days to review the case and to issue a report of its findings. The formal notice of acceptance to review is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on July 17.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Bureau of International Labor Affairs
July 15, 1997
Media Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number