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How to Proceed in the Event of Inappropriate Behavior

Hinschauen. Ansprechen. Handeln.

If you suspect you are the target of inappropriate behavior, you should initially take action yourself, if possible. If you’re an employee, a second step can be to contact your leader or manager; if a student, doctoral student or postdoc, your assigned person of trust. You can also seek advice from specialized contact points and advisory centers within or outside UZH.

The UZH contact points and advisory centers are available to all affected parties. People who have observed inappropriate behavior, who suspect that they themselves are behaving inappropriately, or who would like to prevent such behavior can also seek advice from the contact points and advisory centers.

The following phases must be observed:

Phase 1: Address inappropriate behavior directly

In some cases, a clarifying discussion between you and the person alleged to have behaved inappropriately can be a helpful start in resolving the issue.

Whenever possible, address what you consider to be inappropriate behavior with the person in question. Be assertive. Make it clear that you won’t tolerate the behavior and try to come to an agreement on what appropriate behavior means, or on other measures.

Should no agreement be reached, make a note of the inappropriate behavior and discuss it promptly with a manager or trusted person.

Phase 2: Actively seek advice

Go to a relevant contact point or advisory center where, in a one-to-one conversation, you’ll be asked to describe your experience in your own terms. The aim of the discussion is to classify what you’ve experienced and, together with your advisor, find a solution or establish a course of possible further steps.

Employees, leaders and managers can follow this course via their chain of command, various advisory centers or HR Business Partners in the Human Resources Department); or, if applicable, through the Professorships Department. Students can contact the person of trust at their Office of the Dean or Office of Student Affairs.

Your complaint will be treated with confidentiality. As a rule, the involvement of other persons, services or offices can therefore only take place with your agreement.*

Phase 3: Possible follow-up steps

If the discussion with the person allegedly causing the problem and any subsequent advisory sessions don't lead to a solution, circumstances may call for follow-up steps.

However, in the case of such follow-up steps, confidentiality can no longer necessarily be maintained, which is why any further steps – which have to be initiated by you – must be discussed with you as the party affected. Depending on the circumstances, further steps may include: formally involving the HR Business Partners from the Human Resources Department, launching internal clarification proceedings or an administrative investigation, involving an external mediation service, or filing criminal charges.

Such steps may result in consequences, especially for the person allegedly responsible. Depending on the case in hand, consequences will range from talks, reprimands and other disciplinary and employment law-based measures, through to dismissal or exmatriculation. In the case of structural causes, UZH can launch formal investigations or take organizational measures (such as reorganization or action either at organizational unit or university level).


In the event of immediate threat or violence: please always contact Threat Management at the Safety, Security and Environment department or, in an emergency, the police.


* In the event of suspected criminal conduct or danger to yourself or others, UZH may be legally obliged to act. In this case, UZH may proceed without your consent and confidentiality can no longer be guaranteed.