Denver, CO- Sexual harassment in the workplace is an issue even with strict laws that prohibit such misconduct. Some victims fear that when they report a coworker for sexual harassment they will be further subjected to a hostile work environment so they don’t report. A study from Australia confirms those suspicions and shows that victims of sexual harassment who report the incident make things worse for themselves.

One in five U.S. women report being the victims of sexual harassment at work or on college campuses at least one in their lifetimes. In 2012, the last year data is available, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 30,056 reports of sexual discrimination—sexual harassment falls into this category. But the data suggests that retaliation is a bigger problem with EEOC receiving 37,836 complaints.

The number of formal complaints for sexual harassment is likely far lower than the actual incidents since many victims are reluctant to report precisely because they fear they will be fired or treated with hostility. And a 2012 study from the Australian Human Rights Commission confirms those fears.

Researchers found that since 23 percent of women who reported sexual harassment were subjected to retaliation, a dramatic increase from the 7 percent in 2003.

This particular study also showed that number of men facing sexual harassment rose from 7 percent in 2003, to 23 percent.

Retaliation, even though illegal, is all too common. Employees who complain of harassment and discrimination are be punished by their employers. Those punishments can include firing, being denied promotions or raises, hostility from coworkers, denial of days off or decreased hours.

Instead of punishing the aggressor, employers often choose to punish the complainant and even though this forbidden by federal law in happens far too frequently.

Victims of sexual harassment are not only afraid of retaliation, but they are also afraid they are jeopardizing their careers so many people just ignore the behavior. They would rather endure this inexcusable abuse rather than risk their livelihood. The problem with ignoring sexual harassment is that it encourages the behavior and the harasser will continue to find other victims unless they face consequences.

Sexual harassment victims don’t and shouldn’t tolerate this kind of abuse in their workplaces where they spend a good proportion of their time. The first step is to report the abusive actions or comments to a supervisor. If the supervisor refuses or fails to address the issue, a Denver sexual harassment attorney can step in and file a suit against the negligent employer.

Individuals who are subjected to repeated harassment often suffer emotional distress; they dread going to work, and over time this can take an immense toll on their psychological well-being. Those who are subjected to repeated harassment are eligible to receive compensation, but they have to take the first steps and report the harassment, in spite of their fears. When a person is unsure how to proceed with a complaint, a sexual harassment attorney can be their guide through the process.