Israel Folau initiates Fair Work dispute against Rugby Australia
Former Wallaby Israel Folau has filed a Fair Work Commission dispute against Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs, claiming he was unlawfully terminated because of his religion.
Folau’s contract was terminated last month following a Code of Conduct hearing which examined an inflammatory and homophobic social media post – which Folau refused to take down – deemed a “high level breach” of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct.
In a statement released by his legal team, Folau said he feels he has a duty to stand up for his beliefs.
“I will forever be grateful and proud to have played the sport I love for our nation. Ours is an amazing country built on important principles, including freedom of religion. A nation made up of so many different faiths and cultural backgrounds will never be truly rich unless this freedom applies to all of us,” he said.
“The messages of support we have received over these difficult few weeks have made me realise there are many Australians who feel their fundamental rights are being steadily eroded.
“No Australian of any faith should be fired for practising their religion,”
Folau’s legal team says he will be seeking “substantial remedies from his former employers” if the Fair Work Commission finds his sacking unlawful.
Israel Folau was considered one of the world’s best players and was a certain starter for the Wallabies, who are preparing for Rugby World Cup campaign.
His lawyers will argue that Folau was at the peak of his career and in a position to benefit greatly from international exposure and opportunities.
Folau’s legal action comes on the same day that his brother, John Folau, was granted an immediate release from the NSW Waratahs for personal reasons in what appears to be an act of solidarity.