When looking for a position in Switzerland, it is very common to get questions related to gender, nationality, age and others that I believe would be illegal in United States. I have even been sharply criticized for not including this information right into CV.

Are their any restrictions in Switzerland about asking questions about certain topics? How can I find out what those restrictions are?

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    I think the OP has fallen for the trap of believing that common protection mechanisms are law. If it's illegal to discriminate based on sexuality then it's often easier not to ask (If you don't know, how can you discriminate) - that, of course, in no way means it's actually illegal TO ask.
    – Dan
    Dec 18, 2017 at 13:57
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    @eee That article is of the same opinion. It says quite clearly "Illegal interview questions, while not illegal in the strictest sense of the word, have so much potential to make your company liable in a discrimination lawsuit, that they might as well be illegal."
    – Dan
    Dec 18, 2017 at 14:35
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    This question is being discussed on meta: workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/q/4981/325 Dec 19, 2017 at 16:59
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    While this is also being discussed on the meta post, just to be clear: these types of questions aren't really illegal in the US. Discriminating against a candidate based on information learned from those questions is illegal which is why not asking them is considered a best practice.
    – Lilienthal
    Dec 19, 2017 at 19:03
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    @MaskedMan I thought it was very clear what OP was asking. Just read the title of the post. Nowhere did he say or imply that law in the US applied to Switzerland. He just made a comparison between the two: I know it's illegal in the US, are there or are there not similar laws in Switzerland? Asking "Is A like B?" does not imply that B has any causal affect on A.
    – Jay
    Dec 20, 2017 at 19:07

2 Answers 2


In Switzerland the questions aren't exactly illegal (you can't prove they've been asked), but you're allowed to lie in the answer.

The specific topics you're allowed to lie about, if asked:

  • Pregnancy (possibly except in occupations that simply don't work during pregnancy, my information is unclear)
  • Religion (except where relevant, e.g. if you apply for a job at a church)
  • Politics (except where relevant, e.g. if you apply for a job at a union)
  • Criminal record (except where relevant, e.g. embezzlement for an accountant)
  • Personal finances/debts (except where relevant, e.g. an accountant)
  • Health (except where relevant, e.g. AIDS for a butcher).
  • Relatives/Partners


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    The source linked doesn't support the concept of being selectively "allowed to lie". Do you imply that lying during recruitment is generally illegal in Switzerland?
    – kubanczyk
    Dec 27, 2017 at 13:21

Gender, nationality, age (actually birth date) and even a photo are all standard content of a traditional Swiss CV [1] and asking for this information is perfectly legal. US anti-discrimination legislation as discussed in some comments is not relevant when applying in other countries. Inform yourself about employment laws and customs of the country you want to work in; there are usually helpful websites for expats.

It appears you have been applying to companies that are a bit more traditional. I recommend providing them with the information they ask for if you want to work for them.

There are of course many questions that they can't ask you in Switzerland (as in most European countries) such as if you have illnesses (if those aren't relevant for the type of work, e.g., food allergies for a cook), are pregnant (or have plans to become pregnant), sexual orientation, ... [2]

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    +1 for "Inform yourself about employment laws and customs of the country you want to work in", although you would have thought it would be obvious...
    – AakashM
    Dec 19, 2017 at 10:28
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    Reluctant -1. While this is arguably useful information to have, in the end this doesn't actually answer the question at all. It's dangerous to assume anything when it comes to employment and discrimination law. Sharing a culture or language isn't necessarily reflected in legislation.
    – Lilienthal
    Dec 19, 2017 at 19:01
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    Probably worth including a quote from the page you link: "It is not unusual in Switzerland to include personal details, such as a photo, marital status and age, but not always required so it can be a personal choice. If you are asked to send a photo, choose a recent, professional-looking one."
    – David K
    Dec 19, 2017 at 19:13
  • @Lilienthal References added.
    – Roland
    Dec 19, 2017 at 20:24
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    "inform yourself about the laws" Well that was what he was trying to do when he asked this question, isn't it? He asked what the laws were in Switzerland. Your answer amounts to saying, "Yes, you should ask this question somewhere." Perhaps he might get an answer by posting this question on a forum that specializes in questions about the workplace. :-)
    – Jay
    Dec 20, 2017 at 19:09

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