Gender Identity Does Not Play Role in Employment

No one may be forced to disclose gender identity or sexual orientation in the workplace. Or to keep it secret.

My name is Robin. I chose this gender-neutral call name myself. I was born as Robert. However, I never really felt male, but as a female personality. That is why my appearance is female.

I applied for a job in a medium-sized industrial company and recently started the new job. My gender identity was not an issue in the application process. However, now my direct boss is expressing difficulty with my transgender appearance. He has asked me to hide my gender identity as much as possible. He even threatens me that otherwise I might not pass the probationary period.

I want to stand by myself as a transgender person and realize myself professionally – not have to deal with such questions. Can I really be asked to deny myself?

Robin M.


Robin's employer acted correctly until Robin was hired by not bringing up their gender identity in the job interviews. According to the Equality Act, the Code of Obligations and the Data Protection Act, questions about sexual orientation, transidentity or intersexuality are not allowed. Applicants are also not obliged to provide information on this.

Affected Persons Decide for Themselves

Now, however, there is a demand and a threat that cannot be reconciled with the labor law legislation. No one may be required to keep their sexual orientation, trans identity or intersex identity a secret. Conversely, no one may be forced to disclose them either. (An exception may be made for institutions under private law with an idealistic or spiritual purpose).

Employment May not Be Denied

Employment may not be denied on the basis of sexual orientation, trans identity or intersex. The boss’s threatening Robin because of their lived transgender identity is discrimination and violates the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and the Code of Obligations. If she were to suffer financial loss because of it, she could seek financial compensation.

Other Rights Protect Trans People

Robin in her identity is well protected as a transperson by other rights:

  • She is allowed to choose which first name she wants to be addressed by and which pronoun: "she" or "he" or a neutral form. This is also applicable in her job references.
  • The employer must provide Robin with sanitary infrastructures (toilets, showers, dressing rooms) that offer her safety and respect her physical and gender integrity. The needs of her colleagues must be considered, however, and the solution must be economically viable for the company.
  • If Robin decides to undergo gender reassignment surgery, she cannot be dismissed because of it. She is also entitled to sick leave.
  • Last but not least, the question of retirement age arises for transgender persons. This is based on the official gender. Robin, who is still registered as a man, can change the official gender upon request. In Switzerland, the only choices are male or female. In the case of trans identity, confirmation of this from a psychological or psychiatric professional is usually required, but no medical treatment of any kind. Please note: The retirement age for women will be gradually aligned with that of men after the September 2022 vote until 2028.

So Robin does not need to hide her identity – at least legally nothing stands in the way of her development in the workplace.


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