Garmin maliciously fired pregnant migrant workers? Condemn pregnancy discrimination and demand the enforcement of gender equity!

2023/04/26Policy Analysis

Press release for the press conference on the Pregnancy Discrimination in Garmin.

Serve the People Association 2023. 04. 25 -26

Vietnamese migrant worker Ms. B worked in the night shift at Garmin Ltd. In March this year, she felt sick and had a check-up in the hospital, and she found hersel pregnant for 37 weeks, so she reported to her branch director who blamed her of the late report and told her to take the sick leave from the following week. On March 21, the agency translator went to the dormitory and took the resignation letter to Ms. B to sign. The agency’s translator did not inform Ms. B of any relevant rights or other options. As a result, Ms. B did not know that Taiwan has laws to protect pregnant women's right to work in the workplace, so she mistakenly believed that she could only return to Vietnam because of her pregnancy, and had no choice but to resign.

(The Linkou factory of GARMIN) (Source: Google Street View)

After booking the flight ticket back to Vietnam, Ms. B went to the hospital for another check-up, and she was told by the doctor told that she was no longer suitable for taking a flight because of her long pregnancy. Ms. B also learned from other migrant workers that she still can stay to work and give birth in Taiwan according to the regulation in Taiwan. Ms. B already paid an excessive amount of placement fee and has the debt bondage to work in Taiwan, so since she knows the migrant workers don't need to go home from pregnancy, she wants to stay in Taiwan, but Garmin insisted that she must go home, that's why Ms. B seeks help from SPA.

( At the press conference on this case 4/26. From left to right: Commissioner Chen of the Vietnam Shelter of the Serve the People Association; Ms. B, the victim, and Lennon Ying-Dah Wong, director of the SPA Migrant Workers Policy Department)

(In the middle, Ms. B, the victim, spoke at the press conference of this case 4/26)

In this case, there were the following serious negligence:

1. Garmin treats gender equality as nothing: Both the Labor Standards Act and the Act of Gender Equality in Employment in Taiwan protect the right of female workers for pregnancy and giving birth, but Garmin failed to fulfill the employer's responsibilities, and instead allowed the broker to require the migrant worker to sign a voluntary termination letter, which clearly violated the relevant regulations on gender equity.

2. Garmin and the broker did not provide any assistance to the pregnant migrant worker at all, but only asked her to leave and return to Vietnam: after the company learned that Ms. B was pregnant, Garmin did not show any care to her at all, the Section Chief even blamed her of th late report. The broker was assigned to handle afterwards and didn't show any care or told Ms. B any rights she has; asking Ms. B to sign the resignation letter was the only thing she did.

3. Garmin Corporation stated in the company's supplier code of conduct that it follows all Code of Conduct from the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), but Garmin already clearly violated the "Non-discrimination/Non-harassment" section which explicitly prohibits discrimination on pregnancy. Although considered by labor groups to be low-standard, the RBA Code of Conduct is often taken as high-standard for the companies in Taiwan; certification through RBA audits is often considered to be basically legal in terms of labor and environmental aspects. However, the situation of Garmin Taiwan makes the credibility of RBA certification in question.

( At the press conference on this case. The director Tian of the Vietnam Shelter of the Serve the People Association) 

We would like to ask: Is Garmin an RBA member? Or is Garmin a supplier for one or some RBA members? Does RBA audit the Garmin regularly? If so, this may indicate that the audit is not accurate, and even such a systematic problem is still remained unchecked. If Garmin has nothing to do with RBA at all, should RBA come forward to clarify?

What we question Garmin is that in just a few days from the knowledge of Ms. B’s pregnancy to the deceptive resignation, the management of Garmin did not express any concern or any assistance to Ms. B who was pregnant, on the contrary, they allowed the agency to cheat Ms. B to sign the voluntary resignation letter in an almost deceptive way when she is in a vulnerable situation. Even if Garmin did not deliberately connive at it, how come they didn't know that such a treatment may cause serious damage to the rights and interests of a vulnerable female migrant worker? Garmin does not have any proper care and protection measures for pregnant female migrant workers. Even after acknowledging the wrongdoings above-mentioned, Garmin still insisted they didn't violate any laws and regulations on the termination of Mr. B. Being a famous and leading brand worldwide, is it the corporate social responsibility Garmin wants to show the world? Moreover, was it all done by the broker? Is it true that management of Garmin doesn't know about it? Can't Garmin regulate its broker? Or it's Garmin who assigned the broker to do it? Garmin needs to explain clearly.

( At the press conference on this case. Lennon Ying-Dah Wong, director of the SPA Migrant Workers Policy Department)

Here are our demands:

1. Under the premise of respecting the wishes of Ms. B, Ms. B shall be reinstated, or she can terminate the contract according to Article 14 of the Labor Standards Act. Garmin has been suspected of violating the relevant provisions of the Labor Standards Act and the Act of Gender Equality in Employment. Ms. B should reinstate Ms. B unconditionally if she is willing. However, since Garmin is suspected of violating the law, Ms. B also has the right to request the termination of the employment contract in accordance with Article 14 of the Labor Standards Act, and Garmin should pay severance pay and the Ministry of Labor should approve the transfer of Ms. B.

2. There is obviously systematic negligence on the rights of pregnant migrant workers in Grmin which already caused serious infringement of the rights and interests of pregnant female migrant workers. Garmin should review and propose a sound corrective action plan to care for female pregnant migrant workers to avoid the recurrence of related problems.

3. The central and local authorities should file a case to investigate whether Garmin’s top management intentionally or negligently caused the pregnant female migrant workers to be deceived and discriminated against and caused damage to their rights and interests. Meanwhile, policies should be formulated to require enterprises to report to the local authorities if they know a female migrant workers is pregnant, and the competent authorities should immediately provide the pregnant migrant worker with care and inform them of relevant rights and interests.

4. RBA should strengthen the audit on the gender equality, especially the discrimination on maternity rights of migrant workers to protect the rights of the pregnant migrant workers, and so the suspicion of smearing the enterprise for profit can be avoided.

5. In addition to the Taiwan government, the Netherlands, where the parent company of Garmin is located, Switzerland, where the company is registered, and the United States, the headquarters of the company's operation, should strengthen the inspection of the company to prevent gender discrimination and any infringement of labor rights.

(Shi Yi-Xiang, the Secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and Lai Hsiang-Ling, a members of the Legislative Yuan attended and solidarity with us at the press conference of this case)

Recently, the occupational disaster which later was memorized as the 25 Ladies Tomb in Kaohsiung in 1979 has aroused a lot of social discussion. We welcome the protection of vulnerable female workers has drawn the attention by the public, and we also hope that the Ministry of Labor and local authorities will show their determination to protect women's labor rights and interests, and there should be better protection and care measures for vulnerable female migrant workers.

(Shi Yi-Xiang, the Secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and Lai Hsiang-Ling, a members of the Legislative Yuan attended and solidarity with us at the press conference of this case)

English contact person: Lennon Ying-Dah Wong, Director, Dept. of Policies on Migrant Workers: +886-933908994,