Israel Folau has asserted his right to freedom of religion in his applications lodged today with the Fair Work Commission.
The rugby star’s legal representatives, reported yesterday to be national commercial law firm Macpherson Kelley and industrial relations barrister Stuart Wood AM QC, said that the applications were filed against both Ruby Australia Ltd and Waratahs Rugby Pty Ltd.
The applications confirmed that Folau intends to seek a declaration that the termination of his contract was unlawful because the action was based on his practice of his religion. Section 772 of the Fair Work Act outlaws the termination of employment on the basis of religion.
In a statement sent to Australasian Lawyer, Folau’s legal team said that the applications claim that the contract tear-up cost Folau exposure and opportunities because it prevented the former Wallabies player from playing at the peak of his career and on the cusp of a Rugby World Cup. Folau’s contract was terminated last month after the league said he breached its player code of conduct.
“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 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,” he said. “No Australian of any faith should be fired for practising their religion.”