Republic of Ireland Law
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1. If this allegation of inappropriate touching is false, then you can sue this co-worker in defamation for any harm and hurt caused. The law does not protect wrongful claims of harassment. Here I would advise you to get yourself a solicitor and to sue for defamation. Be aware that you will need to be able to rebut any allegation of truth which might be raised. However, there is a rebuttable presumption in your favour that the allegations made were false. It is up to this co-worker to prove they were true, in order that he may avoid liability to you in damages.
2. Your company has no obligation to you to protect you from allegations by your co-workers, unless they could constitute bullying or harassment. An employer such as yours, has a legal obligation sounding in damages, to prevent the bullying and harassment of each of its employees. However, this legal obligation does not extend to protecting employees from defamatory accusations by fellow employees. In point of law, where a worker makes an allegation of inappropriate touching against a superior, such as a team leader, the employer has an obligation in law to investigate this allegation. Here, your employer has fulfilled its duty as employer. It is then up to you, as a private citizen, to then decide whether you wish to take legal proceedings of your own against your co-worker concerning the allegations made. However, there is no legal duty of protection placed on your employer to prevent defamatory remarks, unless these constitute bullying or harassment. Given that you are team leader, this is unlikely to be the view of a court. So you must take your own legal action.
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