All harassment is a severe form of infringement upon personality rights

Psychological Harassment

Psychological or moral harassment (mobbing, bullying) consists of a series of repeated remarks or actions against a person, over an extended period. The result of these actions is the isolation, marginalization, or even exclusion of the person in their workplace or study environment. While each act taken in isolation may seem bearable, the cumulative effect can destabilize the targeted person and have a significant impact on their psychological and physical health. In Swiss law, unlike sexual harassment, the frequency and intention are considered in establishing psychological harassment.

Sexual Harassment and Sexism

Sexual harassment involves any unwanted behavior that is sexist or of a sexual nature. It can occur within the University premises, in a library, an office, a cafeteria, or outside, during conferences, outings, or through electronic communication (cyberbullying) or private calls. The discomfort experienced by the person is primarily considered to determine the existence of sexual harassment. Unlike psychological harassment, sexual harassment is not subject to the conditions of intention and repetition.

Environmental Harassment

Environmental harassment is not targeted at an individual but is generated by a sexist and/or stereotyped atmosphere. This can manifest in a work/study environment where explicit photos are displayed, juvenile jokes are exchanged, and denigration based on a person's origin, culture, physical or moral characteristics, sexual orientation, or gender is practiced, supposedly in a humorous tone. It can also involve sexy calendars or a sexist poster inviting to a student party, all designed under the label of irony. A denigrating atmosphere in the workplace, research, and/or study is thus created.


Psychological harassment:

  • Intentionally excluding, disregarding one's remarks, assigning tasks to the person that are either below or above their level of responsibility or skills, humiliating, mocking and/or spreading rumors about a person

Sexual harassment:

  • Suggestive and/or insistent looks, catcalling, whistling; displaying images or objects with sexual connotations; unwanted touching, grasping, groping, pinching, kissing, or any other contact
  • Sending sexually suggestive or sexist messages (via text messages, social media, emails, letters, etc.)
  • Comments and remarks about physical appearance, behavior, or clothing
  • Sexist jokes, homophobic and transphobic comments
  • Intrusive questions about private and/or sexual life
  • Unsolicited innuendos, advances, and blackmail


Narratives reconstructed from real events handled by the University of Geneva.


“The day I started this new position, one of my colleagues said, ‘She is not here to code; she's here to bring the programmers to work.’ And the worst part is, he thought he was giving me a compliment. It meant that I was only good enough to make an employee enjoy coming to work. However, this remark actually had the effect of undermining my credibility in the eyes of my project manager. For a month, he didn't assign any tasks to me.”


“It was very complicated to request and obtain vacations, as if the teacher had to pay for them out of her own pocket.”


“I often hear our supervisor say to my colleagues leaving the office at 5:00 PM: ‘You're lucky to work part-time!’”