Israel Folau Says Rugby Australia Unlawfully Fired Him Because of His Religious Beliefs

By AAP
June 6, 2019 Updated: June 6, 2019

Lawyers for dumped Wallabies star Israel Folau have lodged an unfair dismissal claim against Rugby Australia.

Applications were filed with the Fair Work Commission on Thursday, June 6, against both the NSW Rugby Union and the national governing body following Folau’s sacking last month after his controversial social media posts on his religious beliefs.

Having been warned last year by RA boss Raelene Castle, the 30-year-old dual international posted a bible passage on Instagram proclaiming hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” unless they repent their sins.

“No Australian of any faith should be fired for practising their religion,” Folau said in a statement.

Israel Folau
Israel Folau watches on during a Waratahs Super Rugby training session at David Phillips Sports Complex on March 25, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

After an epic code-of-conduct hearing stretching 22 hours over three days and featuring some of the sharpest legal minds in Australia, RA and the Waratahs terminated Folau’s multi-million-dollar contract on May 17 citing a “high-level” breach of his contract.

Folau had 72 hours to appeal the judicial panel’s decision at a second code of contract hearing, but opted against doing so, saying he had lost faith in RA’s ability to treat him fairly or lawfully.

Folau will now argue that under the Fair Work Act his employment was unlawfully terminated because of his religion.

“I will forever be grateful and proud to have played the sport I love for our nation,” he said.

“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.”

Israel Folau
Israel Folau of Australia breaks through to score during the Quilter International match between England and Australia at Twickenham Stadium on Nov. 24, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Documents lodged with the commission claim the sacking meant Folau was prevented from playing at the peak of his career and on the cusp of a Rugby World Cup, which would have generated greater exposure and opportunities.

“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,” Folau said.

Israel Folau
Israel Folau of the Waratahs looks on during the round 8 Super Rugby match between the Blues and Waratahs at Eden Park on April 6, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

At the time of the sacking, Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said it was a sad day for the sport to terminate the Wallabies’ three-time player of the year and Super Rugby’s all-time leading try-scorer.

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