Following a marathon mediation, former Wallabies star Israel Folau and Rugby Australia have settled their dispute over the termination of Folau’s employment with Rugby Australia after he made controversial comments on Twitter about homosexuality.
The case was notable and of political significance because it highlighted the tensions between the rights of employers to dismiss workers to preserve their own reputational interests, freedom of religion, and employees being able to publicly express their own opinions outside of work.
It’s understood it’s a favourable result for Folau, who not only will receive an undisclosed sum in damages, but who also received a public apology from Rugby Australia.
Janet Albrechtsen reports:
“On Wednesday afternoon, following marathon mediation negotiations, RA wholeheartedly apologised to Folau. In fact, the humiliating settlement overseen by Castle saw RA “acknowledge and apologise for any hurt or harm caused” to both Israel and his wife, Maria. It reads like a mea culpa from RA for being part of the pile-on that Maria endured when she publicly supported her husband during this battle.
“Folau received money from RA, too. That’s in addition to the $2.1m fighting fund to cover his legal expenses from Australians who support Folau’s right to express his religious views, even if many — like me — disagree vehemently with his views. That, after all, is the real test of our commitment to freedom of expression, and religious freedom, in a liberal democracy.”
Reading between the lines, Rugby Australia’s legal position may not have been as strong as they were claiming. But another explanation is that the ongoing drama with the player who used to be their biggest star overshadowing the game itself would have proven very costly in itself.
On 23 April 2019, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten campaigned at the Queensland government-owned Gladstone Ports. At a free barbeque, an electrical engineer told Shorten that “It would be good to see higher-wage earners given a tax break’’. Shorten replied with “We’re going to look at that”, a claim which appeared to be at odds with his policy of slugging those with above average incomes with higher taxes.
The electrical engineer was subsequently suspended when he was told he had breached his employment contract for speaking to the media, and his pass did not work the following day when he arrived for work. His desk was also packed up and the contents returned to him.
Section 351 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) provides that:
(1) An employer must not take adverse action against a person who is an employee, or prospective employee, of the employer because of the person’s race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.
(2) However, subsection (1) does not apply to action that is:
(a) not unlawful under any anti-discrimination law in force in the place where the action is taken…
(3) Each of the following is an anti-discrimination law:…
(c) the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 of Queensland.
Section 7 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) provides that:
Discrimination on the basis of certain attributes prohibited
The Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of the following attributes—
(j) political belief or activity
By speaking with an elected politician running for Prime Minister who was attending an event at his work, the worker was arguably merely engaged in political activity and/or expressing a political belief. By taking adverse action against him, the employer appears to have contravened the general protections enshrined under the Fair Work Act 2009 as well as the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991. The employer’s claim that he was fired for “speaking with the media” at first glance appears to be spurious.
Given that he was not technically fired from his work, the worker may not be able to claim for unfair dismissal as he may not have been dismissed from his employment. However, given that he soon after found a new job, a claim for breach of a general protection under the Fair Work Act 2009 may not be worth pursuing if there is not a significant gap between what he was being paid with his former employer and what he is currently earning.
One can only speculate whether someone in the Labor Party (connected either with Bill Shorten or the QLD Labor Government) urged the employer to take action against the worker for causing political embarrassment to Bill Shorten.
Last year, Professor Peter Ridd was sacked by James Cook University after speaking out on issues relating to climate change research.
He took James Cook University to the Federal Circuit Court, arguing his termination of employment was unlawful.
Today, Ridd has won his case, with the Court awarding judgment in his favour:
“Handing down his decision today, judge Salvatore Vasta said that the 17 findings used by the university to justify the sacking were unlawful.
“The Court rules that the 17 findings made by the University, the two speech directions, the five confidentiality directions, the no satire direction, the censure and the final censure given by the University and the termination of employment of Professor Ridd by the University were all unlawful,” Judge Vasta said.
A penalty hearing will be set for a later date.
At a hearing last month, Professor Ridd’s barrister Stuart Wood argued his client was entitled to criticise his colleagues and the university’s perceived lack of quality assurance processes.”
This is a win for free speech and academic freedom.
The Human Rights Commission’s decision to award compensation to a man convicted of child pornography offences shows that it is an out of touch organisation that sides with pedophiles over businesses.
The Australian ‘Human Rights’ Commission has courted significant controversy in recent years as a result of its decision to delay an enquiry into children in immigration detention until after the Liberal-National Coalition was elected in 2013, its former President’s repeatedly false and misleading evidence in Senate estimates and its failure to notify the students in the QUT case that a complaint had been made against them for 14 months.
The most recent controversy is the Commission’s awarding of compensation of $2,500 against bank and insurance company Suncorp for refusing to employ a man convicted and sentenced to 12 months’ jail in 2008 for accessing child pornography via a “carriage service” and for possession of child pornography.
To make matters worse, when applying for the role the man intentionally failed to disclose his criminal history.
If any organisation (other than the EU) typifies the foolish and dangerous worldview of the elites, it is the ‘Human Rights’ Commission. This organisation seems not to realise that people with serious criminal convictions usually are not of good character, particularly if they then try to deceive or mislead prospective employers as the man in this case did.
According to the Commission, a person convicted of accessing and viewing child porn should not be ‘discriminated against’ by employers when applying for jobs. On the other hand, students who complain on Facebook about being kicked out of an Indigenous only computer lab, and columnists and cartoonists who dare to express controversial opinions about Indigenous affairs should be sued, punished, dragged through the Commission’s Kaffkaesque processes and/or silenced.
This is precisely the sort of outcome we can expect more of if the ‘Human Rights’ Commission is given real power, or a Bill of Rights is ever implemented, as we warned some time ago. The ‘human rights’ of criminals, illegal immigrants and extremists will inevitably take precedence over the rights and interests of others.
Climate blogger Jennifer Marohasy provides an interesting report on Dr Peter Ridd’s case against James Cook University in the Federal Circuit Court. Ridd’s employment as an academic of the university was terminated in May due to him speaking out and defying a gag order imposed by the university.
Continue reading “JCU in Court for adverse actions against academic freedom”
Amy Louise Robinson was employed by activewear company Lorna Jane Pty Ltd between July and December 2012 as manager of Lorna Jane’s DFO store at Skygate near Brisbane Airport.
Ms Robinson claimed to have suffered a psychiatric injury from workplace bullying by Megan McCarthy (Lorna Jane’s learning and development manager) and haemorrhoids when lifting and moving heavy boxes of stock during the course of her employment.
Vicarious liability is a common law principle which imposes liability despite the employer’s not itself being at fault. The claim for psychiatric injury alleged that Lorna Jane was vicariously liable for the actions of McCarthy and also that an email from a former DFO store employee named Ms Maninnen which alleged ill-treatment of Robinson by McCarthy had put the company ‘on notice’ and that it had subsequently failed to investigate.
Continue reading “Lorna Jane’s comprehensive court win”