Israel Folau claims Rugby Australia’s termination of his contract was unlawful and an unreasonable restraint of trade in his bid to continue playing professional sport.
Folau and his legal team have lodged a 26-page statement of claim with the Federal Circuit Court in another step forward in his legal battle after his multi-million dollar contract was terminated following his controversial social media post in April that said homosexuals were destined for hell unless they repented their sins.
The former Wallabies star is suing former employers RA and the NSW Waratahs for up to $10 million in compensation. His four-year playing contract was worth $5.7 million.
Folau’s termination case has been set down for a potential three-to-five day trial in the Federal Circuit Court in February next year unless the parties can settle in a court-directed mediation in December.
‘Mr Folau can no longer play rugby union at an international level (because he is only eligible to play for the Wallabies) or for an Australian team in the Super Rugby competition and [the sanction] is therefore an unreasonable restraint of trade, contrary to public policy, and void,’ reads the court document.
The document goes on to argue Folau’s post was made in his own time and was not unlawful.
‘In his own time, Mr Folau uploaded some religious content on his social media accounts, as was his usual practice. There was nothing unlawful about his conduct, which was a manifestation of his religion and consistent with his freedom of religious expression.
‘This benign conduct, which the community accepts is a recognised fundamental human right and freedom, did not justify any punitive action being taken against him by his employer under the player contract or otherwise. It certainly did not justify Mr Folau losing his career and livelihood.
‘Instead, the respondents did precisely that and terminated the player contract. As a result, Mr Folau is no longer able to play elite rugby in or for Australia again.’
RA and the Waratahs are expected to file a response by September 20.
Photo: Getty Images