With the exception of some disputes that may arise in international employment litigation cases and provided that such disputes concern parties originating from countries outside the EU or AELE, the forum for employment litigation is either the domicile of the defendant or, alternatively, the place of the business where the employee usually works.
This forum is compulsory and the employees may not validly agree to change it before the dispute arises.
Swiss courts apply Swiss law, unless the dispute arises in an international employment frame. In such a case, the applicable law is the one of the country in which the employee usually performs his work. At some limited conditions, parties can also choose the law that would apply to their dispute.
In Geneva, cantonal laws established a specialized Labour Court (Tribunal des prud’hommes, in French) that has jurisdiction to judge disputes between an employer and an employee. Appeals against judgements issued by the Labour Court are taken to the Court of Justice and, subsequently, in some particular cases, to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.
Since 1st January 2011, the Swiss Code of civil procedure governs the procedure of disputes brought to the Courts.
The Code provides a mandatory conciliatory hearing, during which a conciliatory judge of the Labour Court will try to bring parties to a transactional agreement, prior to initiating formal litigation.
If the dispute is brought to the Labour Court, there is a simple and expeditious procedure for cases in which the amount in dispute does not exceed CHF 30’000.- and for which no court fees or expenses are charged to the parties. Additionally, the court shall ex officio establish the facts and appraise the evidence at its entire discretion.
If the amount in dispute exceeds CHF 30’000.- but is inferior to CHF 75’000.-, the proceedings are governed by the ordinary procedure, in the frame of which every party will have to allege and prove the facts they rely on in support of their respective orders. Nevertheless, there are still no fees or expenses charged to the parties.
Should the claim be superior to CHF 75’000.-, the proceedings would still be governed by the ordinary procedure summarized above, but the Court by contrast would invite the claimant to provide with a provision for its fees and expenses that would be allocated among the parties, depending on the issue of the case.