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Does Israel Folau’s legal challenge have a chance? A workplace law expert weighs in

Neil Mitchell
Article image for Does Israel Folau’s legal challenge have a chance? A workplace law expert weighs in

Sacked rugby star Israel Folau says he will fight Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW over his dismissal.

Folau has started a GoFundMe page, with a $3 million target, to cover legal costs.

In one day, more than 2,200 people have donated to the cause.

But Michael Bradley, workplace lawyer and Managing Partner at Marque Lawyers, says Folau’s chances of winning the legal battle against his termination are slim.

“It’s a really difficult case for him, legally speaking,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“The case he is going to run is an anti-discrimination case, basically that he has been discriminated against on the basis of his religion, and he’s got to establish that the reason he got sacked was because of religion.

“That’s quite a stretch.”

Mr Bradley said Folau was sacked because he breached his contract and workplace code of conduct, not because he expressed his religious views.

“The fact that it was religious content isn’t particularly relevant, it could have been lots of things,” he said.

Mr Bradley said Folau’s argument “ignores the distinction between what he did, which was express his religious faith and make the statements that he made, and the reason for his termination, which was contractual,” he said.

However, if Folau’s legal battle is successful, it could have far-reaching implications.

“If he won his case then that would be a pretty earth shattering decision,” he said.

“It would establish a principle that the expression of a religious belief is, per se, protected, regardless of context.”

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Neil Mitchell
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