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Workplace harassment Court rules dismissal without notice unjustified in sexual harassment case

Picture of a man at work touching his female co-worker

The employee had already made unwanted comments to another female employee and had touched her inappropriately. 

(Keystone)

A consultancy firm that fired an employee without notice for making rude, sexual comments about a female colleague did so unlawfully, the Swiss Federal Court has decided.

The 31-year-old man who lost his job had made explicit sexual remarks about a co-worker to three male colleagues at a bar after work, which he also repeated at a later stage. The young woman who was the target of the comments reported them to her company’s human resources department. After the matter was investigated and other employees questioned, the man’s contract was terminated with immediate effect. 

The investigation also revealed that the individual had already made unwanted comments to another female employee and had touched her several times with his foot underneath the table. 

+ Find out how sexual harassment cases are handled in the Swiss workplace 

Company must pay back wages

The Federal Court, in its ruling published on Friday, confirmed that the employer must pay its former staff member the wages he would have been due during the ordinary notice period. It rejected the company’s appeal against a lower court decision. 

The ruling does not justify or downplay the man’s inappropriate behaviour; his “sexist and rude remarks”, the Federal Court wrote. The incidents had not been grave enough, however, to justify a dismissal without notice, it added. 

swissinfo.ch/ln

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