Former Rugby Player Files Religious Discrimination Suit after Being Fired over Expressing His Christian Views
After being fired for sharing a post on Instagram opposing homosexuality, Australian Christian Rugby player Israel Folau has filed suit against Rugby Australia.
On Thursday, the 30-year-old announced that he had filed an application with the Australian Fair Work Commission for religious discrimination, which he believes was the backbone of his termination. “No Australian of any faith should be fired for practicing their religion,” Folau argued, according to the Christian Post.
As Christian Headlines previously reported, Folau’s contract was terminated in April after he shared a post on Instagram warning “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, [and] idolaters” to turn away from sin.
The former Wallabies player wrote in the April 10 post, “Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”
He then quoted Galatians 5:19-21 which says, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Soon after sharing this post, Folau was accused by Rugby Australia of breaching the players’ code of conduct which led to the termination of his employment contract.
In an independent hearing regarding the incident, Folau – who was signed to play through 2022 for more than $1 million a year – was found guilty of a “high level” breach of contract.
This triggered a snowball effect, causing two of the superstar's sponsors to drop him. Both car manufacturer Land Rover and athletic wear brand Asics broke off their partnerships with Folau.
As reported by the Christian Post, Folau’s legal team shared that the athlete is seeking “substantial remedies from his former employers should they be found to have breached the Fair Work Act in terminating his employment."
Folau is reportedly citing section 772 of the Australian Fair Work Act which prohibits employers from terminating an employee on the basis of religion in his challenge of his termination.
The application also reportedly states that "The termination has cost Mr Folau the best years of his rugby career, participation at the Rugby World Cup, the chance to become the greatest Wallaby try-scorer (a decades-old record he was likely to break), and the associated exposure and opportunities.”
"As well as around $5 million in lost salary, Mr Folau will claim in respect of the loss of these opportunities (renewal of contract, sponsorships, etc). The damages will be particularised in due course, but will be substantial. In addition, Mr Folau will seek civil penalties,” the application continues.
In a statement shared with the Sydney Morning Herald by Folau’s legal team, the rugby player noted that he felt he needed to stand up for people’s freedoms in Australia. He said, “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,” Folau proclaimed.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Mark Kolbe/Staff