If you feel you are being sexually harassed, contact one of the information and advisory offices listed. These offices will inform you about various informal and formal steps you can take and support you in order to put a quick stop to the sexual harassment. 

Informal procedure

Where you can reasonable do so, we recommend that you react immediately and tell the harasser very clearly that their behaviour is unwanted and will not be tolerated.

If you are being sexually harassed you may at any time contact one of the following persons or resources, which will provide you with information, advice and support on a confidential basis:

External confidential resources:

  • Personnel and Social Counselling Office of the Federal Administration (PSC)
  • Mediation Service for Federal Personnel
  • External organisations specialising in sexual harassment in Switzerland or abroad

Confidential resources within the FDFA:

  • Line manager
  • HR Advisory Services
  • FDFA Compliance Office

Chart Informal procedure
Chart Informal procedure © FDFA

Formal procedure

A formal procedure begins as soon as you report the sexual harassment on the FDFA whistleblowing platform, stating that you are fully informed and request your employer to begin such a procedure. Your request will then be sent to the employer for verification with a view to launching an enquiry, which may be carried out by external investigators where necessary. Based on the findings presented in the investigators' report, the employer will take appropriate action, which may include disciplinary measures up to and including termination of employment.

Protecting victims of sexual harassment is a priority for the FDFA. However, the formal procedure also requires that the rights of the accused are protected. Complaints are handled as discreetly as possible. As an individual filing a complaint, you have the right to be represented by a lawyer or an equivalent organisation throughout the procedure.

Once the investigation has been initiated, the FDFA may, as the employer, take provisional measures while the investigation is under way in order to put an immediate end to the sexual harassment and improve the situation. One option, for example, is to ensure that the persons concerned work in separate offices. 

Chart Formal procedure
Chart Formal procedure © FDFA

Legal steps

If you have been sexually harassed, the following legal avenues are available to you in addition to the formal and informal procedures:

a) Proceedings under the Gender Equality Act;
b) Civil action;
c) Criminal proceedings.

Sexual harassment that occurs abroad must be prosecuted via the channels provided for under local law.

Proceedings under the Gender Equality Act deserve special mention. If you are being sexually harassed, one informal step you can take is to seek information and advice from the Conciliation Board for Federal Personnel (see above). You can also file an application for conciliation with the Conciliation Board.  If you are being subjected to discrimination through sexual harassment, you can also request the authority of first instance (Art. 5 para. 1 GEA) to issue an order to:

  • prohibit or stop the impending discrimination;
  • eliminate the discrimination;
  • confirm that discrimination is taking place if it continues to cause harm.

Before an appeal is filed against this order with the competent court, an application for conciliation may be filed with the Conciliation Board within the 30-day deadline for appeal. If you file an application for resolution through conciliation, this will not affect the deadline for appeal. If the conciliation fails, the period for filing the appeal begins to run anew from the time the minutes of the conciliation hearing are submitted.

Seek advice! See "Information and advisory offices" for resources and contact addresses.