Israel Folau could sue Rugby Australia on the grounds of religious discrimination if his current contract is terminated, an expert has claimed.
Yesterday it was revealed that the Wallabies player would fight the attempts of Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs to sack him over the contents of a social media post.
Folau made an Instagram post on Thursday which said gay people – and other perceived sinners – would go to hell unless they repented.
The 30-year-old, who holds strong Christian views, was warned last year for making similar comments on social media but escaped disciplinary action.
On this occasion, however, RA announced it would cancel the lucrative four-year deal he signed in January.
But one legal expert has said Folau could make a claim against the organisation on the basis of his religion under the Fair Work Act.
Israel Folau and his wife Maria (middle left) have been spotted meeting with Rugby Australia officials on Friday amid reports he intends to fight for his career
Mark Fowler, an adjunct associate professor of law the University of Notre Dame, told The Sydney Morning Herald that RA would have to prove they were not terminating Folau’s contract because of his religion.
‘On what is publicly reported, it would seem hard to say that the action Rugby Australia is proposing is not because of his religious belief.’
Israel Folau shared this post to his 325,000 followers on Wednesday, prompting national outrage
Israel Folau (pictured right) could have a legal defence on the grounds of alleged religious discrimination if his current contract is terminated, an expert has claimed
If Folau successfully sued Rugby Australia for the millions of dollars remaining on his contract, it would be a serious blow for the already financially-stretched organisation.
On Friday a meeting was held at the union’s headquarters in Moore Park and while the RA’s position is unchanged, the Wallabies face the prospect of entering this autumn’s World Cup without one of the game’s most gifted players.
‘As the meeting was held in confidence between the player and his employers, Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union will not comment on the discussions at the meeting,’ a statement read.
The Rugby Union Players’ Association accompanied Folau to the talks and revealed in a statement that he intends to honour his contract, adding that the RA’s code of conduct must be followed during any disciplinary action.
The 30-year-old’s (pictured left) position with the New South Wales Waratahs means he is classified as an employee of both his club and of Rugby Australia
Folau was spotted for the first time on Friday, having lunch at a cafe in Little Bay, in Sydney’s south-east alongside his wife Maria.
The Wallabies star has the right to go through a code of conduct hearing before he can be officially sacked by Rugby Australia – and the controversial star intends to save his lucrative career
There has been widespread condemnation of Folau’s remarks, including from former Wallabies team-mate Drew Mitchell and New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.
But former Wallabies coach and prominent media commentator Alan Jones defended Folau’s controversial comments – saying the rugby star had a right to freedom of speech.
Jones said Rugby Australia was acting against Folau to shore up the continued support of major sponsor Qantas, whose chief executive Alan Joyce is gay.
Australian Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was seen leaving Rugby Australia headquarters. Folau was spotted at HQ at midday on Friday
Jones, who used to coach Australia’s national rugby team, slammed Rugby Australia for terminating the star centre’s contact over the post.
‘Rugby Australia are only worried about the quids, they’re only worried about the sponsorship,’ he said on his 2GB radio show on Friday morning.
Jones said Folau was asked to sign a contract which said he wouldn’t talk about any of his views that aren’t consistent with Rugby Australia’s sponsor Qantas.
Shock jock Alan Jones, who used to coach Australia’s national rugby team, slammed Rugby Australia for terminating the star player’s contact over his homophobic photo
Alan Jones has defended Israel Folau’s controversial homophobic comments – saying the rugby star has a right to freedom of speech on his 2GB radio program on Friday morning
‘He’s made comments about religion — who will end up heaven and who will end up in hell. Who cares? It’s an opinion. I don’t necessarily agree with what he said, by the way, but a lot of people don’t agree with what I say,’ the radio heavyweight said.
‘We’re going down a very, very narrow road here and this has gone on and on and on this crap. I’m telling you, out there people are terrified of saying anything. They are frightened, they don’t know what they can say.’
‘We’re on a slippery slope here … it’s got nothing to do with Israel, or rugby, or religion, or homosexuals, or whatever. Where are we in this country on free speech?’
Rugby Australia has reprimanded Folau in the past for targeting the LGBTQI community in his social media posts.
He came under fire in 2017 during the marriage equality vote, when he publicly announced he wouldn’t be supporting gay marriage.