The equality law prohibits discrimination with respect to employment on the basis of sex (including pregnancy). There is no labor law that explicitly prohibits discrimination with respect to employment on the grounds of sex, race, color, religion, sexual orientation, language, political opinion, HIV-positive status or other communicable diseases, gender identity, age, or national and social origin.
Violations of the law may result in the award of compensation to a prospective or dismissed employee equal to a maximum of three months’ salary in the public sector and six months’ salary in private industry. The government did not effectively enforce this provision. Penalties were not sufficient to deter violations. The ILO observed that the country lacked easily accessible mechanisms for workers to seek remedy or compensation for discrimination in employment and vocational training.
Discrimination in employment and occupation occurred with respect to national, racial, and ethnic minorities as well as based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, HIV-positive status, and age.
Discrimination against women in the workplace is illegal, but a disproportionate share of women held jobs with lower levels of responsibility. Employers promoted women less frequently than they did men, and women were less likely to own or manage businesses. Women were severely underrepresented in top-level management positions, particularly in private industry. The law entitles women and men to equal pay for equal work, but this was not enforced effectively. In 2014 the median monthly income for women in the public sector was 7,202 Swiss francs ($7,210), while men earned 8,208 Swiss francs ($8,210). The median monthly income for women in the private sector was 5,548 Swiss francs ($5,550), while men earned 6,536 Swiss francs ($6,540).
The Federal Office for Gender Equality financed projects that promoted equal pay and equal career opportunities in the amount of 4.4 million Swiss francs ($4.4 million). The projects were geared towards assisting businesses and counseling offices in eliminating sex-based discrimination.
According to Procap, one of the country’s largest organizations for persons with disabilities, problems remained in integrating individuals with disabilities into the labor market, and many persons with disabilities lacked adequate support from social insurance after taking a job, which made sustained employment difficult.
In May 2016 a SCHR study on discrimination protection found that LGBTI persons experienced workplace discrimination, predominantly in the private sector.
In 2014 a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found the country’s long-term unemployment rate for persons over the age of 55 was 58.6 percent in 2012. The OECD cited the exclusion of age from the country’s antidiscrimination law as a potential reason behind the high long-term unemployment rate of senior citizens.
The Romani association Romano Dialogue reported that Roma were subjected to discrimination in the labor market and that many Roma concealed their identity to prevent professional backlash. In 2014 ECRI expressed concern that ethnic minorities, such as Muslims, persons of color, refugees, and the Yenish and other Romani groups, experienced considerable discrimination in the labor market. According to ECRI, the unemployment rate among noncitizens was 6.6 percent, compared with 2.3 percent among citizens. The report emphasized that young migrants from countries outside the EU suffered substantial discrimination, even after they had successfully completed their education in the country.
There were occasional reports of labor discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. In 2016 the Swiss AIDS Federation registered 83 cases of discrimination against individuals with HIV. An estimated nine of those complaints concerned employment discrimination or other discrimination in the workplace. Examples of workplace discrimination included refusals to arrange job interviews and placements and breaches of confidentiality about an employee’s HIV-positive status.
Migrant workers in low-wage jobs were more likely than other workers to face exploitative labor practices and poor working conditions. This was especially true in the construction, hospitality, tourism, domestic work, health care, and agricultural sectors.