Professor takes ETH Zurich to court over bullying case

A 2018 survey found that a quarter of doctoral students at the federal technology institute ETH Zurich say they are treated badly by their academic supervisors. © Keystone / Walter Bieri

A professor from the federal technology institute ETH Zurich, who was dismissed this summer over bullying accusations, has lodged a complaint against the university board. The case is expected to go to the Federal Administrative Court.

This content was published on October 31, 2019 - 16:04

The ETH board confirmed on Thursday that the female professor had brought a case against the board, arguing that the accusations against her were false and that she was in fact the victim of bullying.

“We are of the opinion that there is no basis for the dismissal and it must be revoked,” the woman’s lawyer said.

In February 2017, several doctoral students alleged that the professor subjected students to condescending requests and late-night badgering about minor issues. The alleged bullying extends back more than ten years. The professor founded the university’s institute for astronomy along with her husband in 2002. 

In July 2019, she was dismissed following an investigation which revealed “serious breaches of duty over a longer period of time”. However, a commission reviewing the case did not recommend dismissal but rather that the professor not be permitted to supervise doctoral students.

This was the first time in ETH Zurich’s history that a professor had been dismissed from their post.

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