Swiss law provides for a variety of legal remedies.
Employees who have been sexually harassed may suspend their work, and employers must continue to pay their salary during the suspension period.
Victims of sexual harassment may also lawfully terminate their contract of employment with immediate effect. In such cases, employees are entitled to damages equivalent to the amount they would have earned had the employment relationship ended after the ordinary notice period (usually 3 months).
Besides suspension and immediate termination of employment, victims of sexual harassment may bring an action against employers before the competent conciliation board, a court or the administrative body. To this effect, they may apply for an order prohibiting or stopping threatened sexual harassment, requiring sexual harassment to cease and confirming that sexual harassment is taking place if it is continuing to have a disruptive effect. On top of that, they may apply for compensation if the employer did not take sufficient measures to prevent sexual harassment. Such compensation may amount to up to six times the average Swiss monthly salary. In addition, victims may claim damages and satisfaction.
Employees may challenge a dismissal as a result of making a complaint of sexual harassment to their manager, or because of their initiation of legal proceedings. Remedies includes interim relief or compensation of up to six months’ salary within 180 days after termination of employment. Civil claims can also be brought against the harasser, and they may ask the court for injunctive relief as well as claim damages and satisfaction. The employee may also bring a criminal charge against the harasser.
According to Section 13 of the General Equal Treatment Act, employees have the right to lodge a complaint to the competent authority of the company if they feel they have been sexually harassed. According to Section 16 of the General Equal Treatment Act, the employee may not be disadvantaged in this regard. In addition, under section 14 of the General Equal Treatment Act, the employee affected by sexual harassment has the right to refuse to work without loss of pay if the employer does not take any measures, or takes obviously inappropriate measures, to end the sexual harassment at the workplace.
Under section 15 (1) of the General Equal Treatment Act an individual that has suffered harassment in the workplace has a right to make a claim for damages (material harm, i.e. loss of earnings) and compensation (non-material harm, injury to feelings) against the employer and against the individual employee who has harassed them. The employer is only liable for harassment of his employees or third parties if he is at fault. This is not usually the case when harassment first occurs. However, in case of reoccurrence, the employer is liable, if they failed to take appropriate measures to protect the harassed individual against sexual harassment. The fault of the employer is presumed in section 15 of the General Equal Treatment Act.
If the employer is at fault, a contractual claim for damages against the employer may also be considered.
If the harassment injures the person concerned in his or her health or general personal rights, the injured person can claim damages and failure from the harasser according to the Civil Code.