Denver, CO– Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue and despite the laws protecting workers the problem is still rife in the American workplace. Any person, from a factory floor to the board room, male or female, could find they have become the target of sexual harassment. While this type of behavior is bothersome, many men and women wrangle over whether they should file a formal complaint or not.

In an article appearing on the Guardian on Sept. 23, the author, Vanessa James, who is also an attorney, suggested that career women shouldn’t report sexual harassment. James made valid points the primary of which being that if you are a professional woman you could risk your career.

When employees are asked why they don’t report sexual harassment they often state the harassment was not severe enough or they fear they will be retaliated against. A survey conducted by the Risman law firm in New York of 9,000 professional women found that although 92 percent of the respondents had been subjected to sexual harassment, many of the victims were are afraid to report sexual harassment because they know or knew someone who has been fired or forced to quit after reporting an incident

This is possible and in act it happens frequently which is apparent in the fact that the majority of formal sexual harassment complaints also included allegations of retaliation.

Retaliatory actions can include dismissal, demotion, denying an employee promotions or raises, refusing to approve vacations and days off, cutting an employee’s hours or subjecting them to other harassing behaviors.

James asserts in her piece that aside from outright acts of retaliation professional women can lose their good standing with their peers when they file formal complaints. She concludes that women should be cautious when they report harassment because they could put their entire careers in jeopardy.

“A successful court case does not give you back the career you lost,” James wrote

This may be true to an extent, but allowing a coworker to persist with the harassing behavior is not only bad for you, but it is also bad for your current and future coworkers. If a person thinks they can get away with harassing one employee they won’t stop there and others will be subjected to the behavior. No one should have to tolerate sexual harassment and if you continue to remain silent, the perpetrator will not stop.

James suggested that women should set their own boundaries. That is the logical first course of action and in fact you cannot file a formal complaint with the EEOC until you have tried other means to end sexual the harassment.

Those means include addressing the harassment directly with the offender, asking them to stop or letting them know you find certain behaviors offensive. Should that fail, then you must give your employer the opportunity to address the behavior directly with the employee.

The people who actually file formal sexual harassment complaints have tried to address the harassment through those means to no avail. Either their employer failed to discipline the harassing employee or they ignored an employee’s complaints. Contrary to the hype about sexual harassment lawsuits, a large majority of them or not frivolous; they are legitimate claims by people who have tried many ways to end the harassment.

Only the victim of sexual harassment can decide if they want to file a formal complaint. When they have decided that is the right course of action for them to take, a Denver sexual harassment attorney can help guide you through the process.