Folau lawsuit accuses Rugby Australia of restraint of trade
SYDNEY (AP) — Former Wallaby fullback Israel Folau says the termination of his contract by Rugby Australia over a homophobic social media post is unenforceable and an “unreasonable restraint of trade” because he can no longer play international or Super Rugby.
Folau is suing Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs, claiming he was unlawfully dismissed because of his religion after the controversial Instagram post in April.
In a 26-page statement of claim lodged with the Federal Circuit Court this week and details of which were released Thursday, Folau says the decision to terminate his contract places an unreasonable limit on his ability to play.
“Mr. Folau can no longer play rugby union at an international level ... and (it) is therefore an unreasonable restraint of trade, contrary to public policy and void,” the document said.
Rugby Australia said the homophobic post, Folau’s second in two years, breached its code of conduct.
Folau said in the document that he was expected to be paid 5.7 million Australian dollars ($3.83 million) and further test match payments under his contract, which wasn’t due to expire until November 2022.
One of the top players in world rugby, Folau was almost a certainty to play for Australia at the World Cup beginning next month in Japan.
Folau, who is also seeking an apology and for his position to be reinstated, will return to court on Dec. 17 ahead of a trial in February if mediation is unsuccessful.