Israel Folau’s sacking was an “unreasonable restraint of trade” and unenforceable as he can no longer play Australian Super Rugby or internationally, the controversial rugby star claims.
The Christian footballer is suing Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs for $10 million in damages, including a $5.7 million payout for the remainder of his contract.
Folau, who will miss the Rugby World Cup in September, was sacked for breaching his employers’ code of conduct when he shared a controversial Instagram post in April.
In a 26-page statement of claim lodged with the Federal Circuit Court this week, Folau says the decision to sack him is unenforceable because it places an unreasonable limit on his ability to play.
“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 is therefore an unreasonable restraint of trade, contrary to public policy and void,” the document says.
The documents adds that Rugby Australia’s tribunal did not make a “valid finding” so the decision to sack him was “void and of no effect”.
Folau, a self-described “born again” Christian, shared a post on Instagram in April proclaiming hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters”.
His former employers say it breached their code of conduct and both sides are likely to clash at a trial in February next year if a court-directed mediation hearing fails in December.
Folau said it was his “mission and duty to spread the word of God” and that his social media posts represented his “real and genuine” religious beliefs.
Since he was baptised in December 2017, Folau says his social media posts have almost entirely shared what he believes to be the word of God.
He claims he did this in his own time, not at the workplace, and he posted on pages that were “substantively unrelated” to rugby.
Folau, who is also seeking an apology and for his contract to be reinstated, will return to court on December 17 ahead of a trial if mediation is unsuccessful.