Our principal, Greg Martin, and one of our paralegals, Ben Martin, are off to Japan to watch the Rugby World Cup. But can the Wallabies win the cup without Israel Folau?
The case of Israel Folau and his sacking by Rugby Australia highlights some issues in relation to alleged freedom of religion and hate speech in Australia.
Martin Bullock Lawyers takes these issues seriously, as our values include diversity, tolerance and compassion.
Our principal, Greg Martin, was like most Australians raised with some form of institutional religion – in his case, Roman Catholic.
Israel Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia after publishing a post on Twitter stating that hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters”. In a statement, Rugby Australia said:
“At its core, this is an issue of the responsibilities an employee owes to their employer and the commitments they make to their employer to abide by their employer’s policies and procedures and adhere to their employer’s values.”
Ironically, Israel Folau’s cousin, Josiah Folau, who attended a Catholic school and later became a teacher at the same Catholic School – St Gregory’s at Campbelltown – has recently not had his casual contact renewed after he made comments critical of the Catholic Church, including calling the church a “synagogue of Satan” and labelling Catholicism “masked devil worship”.
The question is, how far can your employer go in asking you to keep your views private?
Catholic schools in NSW and the ACT have an ethos clause as part of their employment contracts, which states that “employees are required to support the mission, teachings and ethos of the Catholic Church’s work in schools”. An employer who breaches of this clause is liable for disciplinary action, including termination of their employment.
Josiah Folau’s comments undoubtedly represent a breach of this ethos clause, and thus his termination was justified under the terms of his employment contract.
Australia is the only western democracy that does not have a bill of rights. Whilst this is certainly a conversation worth having, it is also important to have a conversation about how far you can go in vilifying others or proselytising to others about your own rights.
So, what is the law in relation to freedom of religion in Australia? The current government is looking at legislating this. You’ll have to watch this space!
Oh, and go the Wallabies!
If you feel that you have been discriminated against, if your workplace rights rights have been infringed, or if you have any enquiries about employment law generally, then contact Martin Bullock Lawyers for all your legal solutions.