Ringing the changes

I am male and work in a meat factory.  When I turned up for the job interview seven years ago I was wearing ear-rings, and I have continued to wear them ever since.  They’ve now changed the rules and insist no jewellery is to be worn.  Can they do this?  GB

This type of change is unlikely to be regarded as a fundamental alteration to your employment contract, and certainly if it’s been brought in for safety or hygiene reasons you won’t be able to challenge the new rule successfully.  If women are still allowed to wear jewellery you would probably be able to argue that you were being discriminated against.

Otherwise I think you will have to toe the line or leave.  Your only other hope would be to bring a case under the Human Rights Act on the basis that the rule breached your right to freedom of expression.  Your chances of success are remote!

Phoney war

Recently I had a confrontation with my ex-wife’s partner.  No blows were struck, but later a policeman came to my home to discuss the matter and offer advice. 

However, a few days later I received a letter from my ex-wife’s solicitor stating that I had assaulted her partner, which was totally untrue, and my ex-wife had in fact told my daughter that no blows were struck.  What can I do about this slur?  LT

You should ask your own solicitor to write putting the record straight in case the letter is used to your detriment at a later date.  I suggest you avoid such confrontations if only for your children’s sake. 

Under measures included in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 you could be ordered to stay away from your ex-wife if this matter were to come to Court, even if you were to be acquitted.  As regards the damage to your good name, the cost of a defamation action will deter anyone who is not extremely well-off.