Commission tells Folau, Rugby Australia to settle differences before legal battle

Folau lost his Aus$4.0 million (RM11.5 million) contract over an anti-gay post on Instagram. — Reuters pic
Folau lost his Aus$4.0 million (RM11.5 million) contract over an anti-gay post on Instagram. — Reuters pic

SYDNEY, June 14 ― Israel Folau and Rugby Australia have been given a last chance to settle their differences before an industrial tribunal begins lengthy and costly proceedings following his sacking over homophobic comments.

Australia's employment watchdog, the Fair Work Commission, told Rugby Australia to hold talks with the deeply religious 30-year-old, who lost his AUD4.0 million (RM11.5 million) contract over an anti-gay post on Instagram.

The Wallabies fullback last week said he had no confidence in Rugby Australia's internal dispute settlement process and was seeking “substantial remedies” via the tribunal.

It is understood Folau's legal team and Rugby Australia officials will sit down for the face-to-face talks in Sydney on June 28.

If the two parties are unable to resolve the matter, the case will proceed to a formal hearing.

Only four per cent of unfair dismissal matters lodged with the commission normally go to a formal hearing, according to the tribunal.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Folau would be seeking AUD10 million in damages for lost sponsorship and marketing opportunities, a sum it said could bankrupt Rugby Australia.

The action, which names both Rugby Australia and his Super Rugby club the NSW Waratahs, claims a breach of contract and unlawful termination under the Fair Work Act, which protects employees from being sacked because of their religion. ― AFP

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